For about a decade, the state of California has, to no avail, tried to see online poker legalized. Stakeholders have been unable to come to an agreement on the matter, leaving the state with bill after bill dying in the legislature.
According to the Online Poker Report, legislation regarding online poker will not be considered in 2018. Lawmakers seem to have decided that it is better to focus their efforts elsewhere, on legislation that can actually pass, instead of wasting time on iPoker bills that have little chance of moving forward.
California made significant headway in 2016 when Assemblyman Adam Gray seemed to have garnered support from the horse racing industry, however, Gray’s bill was reportedly not able to remedy the issue of suitability. A big issue of contention was tribal interests. A group of California tribes wanted to see penalties, perhaps even a ban, on operators who had stayed in operation with online poker services when it was a violation of federal law.
This would have stopped such brands as PokerStars from offering services in the state. On one hand, there was a coalition that wanted brands like PokerStars out, and another group that had actually banded together with the brand in the hopes of working together if online poker ever came to be in the state.
California is now focusing efforts on other areas of gaming like other states, with sports betting. If the U.S. Supreme Court decides to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, that stops most states from offering sports betting, then the activity would be allowed nationwide. Gray has introduced a measure that would amend that state’s constitution to allow sports betting to take place. ACA 18 is the bill that is currently being considered, helping to prepare the state for sports betting if the highest court rules in favor of New Jersey in the Christie vs. NCAA case.
For now, online poker legislation is on the back burner, and the state turns its efforts towards sports betting, an option that has a better chance of moving forward. According to one legislator in the state, Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, 2019 looks good for sports betting and online poker. In speaking with Online Poker Report, the Assemblyman stated that if a favorable ruling for sports betting is made in June, then legislation work would begin in early 2019 and he hopes to see online poker combined with the option or come after sports betting legislation is created.