The saga of regulated online poker in California continues, and as the legislative session in the state is now closed for 2015 it means that yet another has passed by without any real forward movement. There is of course already talk of what can be done before the 2016 sessions begin, to make sure that it actually happens next year, but have we heard all this before? Yep, we have.
It would be nice, or even make a change, to say that new obstacles are in the way of California online poker regulation, but sadly not even that is the case. The facts are that while online poker and the regulation of it may be a concern for a few, for the majority of California residents it’s doesn’t even make the radar and that has a direct knock on effect. Wildfires, drought and a potential financial crisis are what (and rightly so) most Californians have on their minds right now, and poker....well, at the end of the day and all things considered it’s way, way down on the list.
When you tie the above into the ongoing locking of horns between interested parties and who would actually get to participate in the new venture it becomes clear that much work still needs to be done, and quite possibly, that will happen but not until other issues are put to bed.
The ongoing battles between the Indian tribes, the California racing industry combined with the PokerStars should we, shouldn’t we scenario have led to....nothing but talk as to who should be in and who gets a share of any profits. Racetracks have been hit hard with three having closed their doors recently and there’s even a split within the industry regarding online poker in that some executives believe getting involved would be a good thing, while others are totally against any online poker in the state, and that doesn't help.
There were four online poker bills introduced at this legislative session alone, four bills that didn’t get anywhere, and in the seven years that the regulation of online poker has been discussed by the California legislature, forward movement has been minimal to say the least. Does this look like changing in 2016? The short answer is no, not unless agreements can be made such as who is and more importantly isn’t going to participate in the venture, and until the Indian tribes and the racing industry have come to some sort of clear agreement and path to regulation, that can be presented to the powers that be then no, it won’t happen. The racing industry needs a little help and a good offer to them could be the way forward, and removing PokerStars from the equation, and the added complexities that they bring with them would also help. My two cents....different year, same story, but hey, miracles do happen.