Friday, September 02, 2016

California Dreaming

I’ve vaguely followed the less-than-riveting saga happening out in California over the last few months with regard to the state perhaps becoming the fourth in the U.S. to pass some sort of legislation favorable to online poker. I think I’ve been reading such stories off and on for the last decade, at least, reaching back at least as long as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 and perhaps even before.

The news this week wasn’t good for those wanting to see California get on board, as the legislative session ended with nothing being passed. A summary of the situation can be read over at PokerNews in “Dreams of a California Online Poker Bill Passing in 2016 Are Dead.”

There are numerous groups involved in this battle, including several tribes (with differing agendas), a few casinos, and, of course, Amaya and PokerStars.

As the PokerNews article explains, there remain differing opinions about the UIGEA as well as the significance of PokerStars continuing to serve U.S. customers following its passage in October 2006.

The sponsor of this latest bill, the Assemblyman Adam Gray, had run into difficulty getting traction without any sort of “bad actor” clause that would ban PokerStars from getting in the game right away. So he added one (a five-year “hard ban”), but that didn’t help get things moving, either. Even if a bill were passed without such a clause, regulators could step in and introduce one later (like happened in Nevada).

Anyhow, it’s all moot for now. They got further down the legislative road this time than in any of these other instances over the last decade-plus. There are genuinely “interested parties” this time, too, when it comes to getting some sort of online poker up and running in the state, although their interests are necessarily aligned.

Feels a long way away, though. And looking at it from afar here on the east coast, makes it feel even further.

Image: “Welcome to California” (adapted), Ken Lund. CC BY-SA 2.0.

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