As new year comes around there are certain things that are almost guaranteed to happen and the introduction of a new California online poker bill is one of them. The new proposed legislation has in fact already been presented in Sacramento by Assemblyman Mike Gatto of Glendale and aims to give licenses to tribes and poker rooms in the state, as well as of course, to their tech partners but it does exclude racetracks.
We could roll back the clock and simply repeat quotes from years gone as to why this bill has been introduced, but to stick with the present day, Gatto stated that, “California could receive significant revenue for merely regulating and legitimizing an industry that Californians already participate in but send their dollars overseas.” At present it’s believed that over 2 million residents of the Golden State play online poker, however we can’t see this bill being the one that gets over the line unless changes are made.
The bill, known as the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2015 aims to create an intrastate poker framework for players located in the state, and would grant licenses for 10 years. There are however points in the bill that not all parties will agree on, and yet again, it comes down to bad actor clauses. This bill would appear to be excluding PokerStars from the California online poker equation and although amendments can of course be made to the bill, those changes would, as in previous bill, be the ones that would cause issues. The wording in the bill at present would leave PokerStars in the cold, and the recent changes in ownership of the world’s largest poker site would mean nothing as the same bad actor clause lock outs would apply to any company that purchased or acquired assets used in online gaming pre December 31st 2006, meaning that there would be no room for Amaya the new owners of Stars.
There’s also wording in the bill that means those players who wish to open an account and play online would need to actually physically go to the licensed card room or licensed third party location, and open the account with ID etc. Not only that, but each deposit and withdrawal that the player wanted to make would also need to be done in person, and that could be a huge block to growth. Busting out with a $20 deposit and then wanting to try again would mean a trip to the nearest location where a deposit could be made, and that in itself would deter many players from topping up their accounts. There are clearly issues with the bill that not all parties will agree on, and of course it can be amended, however it’s those amendments, or lack of them, that, in the past have stopped regulated online poker in California becoming anywhere near a done deal.