Lawmakers in California have been debating the regulation of internet poker for longer than any other US state, dating back to 2007. With population of 39 million, no other US state has the potential for success in an interstate market that California has. But at the rate things are moving, it could be another year before online poker can be considered for regulation.
There are four internet poker bills currently circulating in the state legislature. The first was Assemblyman Mark Gatto’s AB 9 in December, followed by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer’s AB 167 in January. Then earlier this month, Assemblyman Adam Gray and Senator Isadore Hall III introduced the same legislation on dual platforms in the form of AB 431 and SB 238.
The deadline on these bills has been set for March 26, 2015. That’s exactly one month from today.
Alan Adler, owner of the Aviator Casino in Delano, CA, gave his analysis of the situation in an interview with KBAK Eyewitness News out of Bakersfield. “I don’t really know why it’s illegal right now,” said Adler. “Internet poker would be one of the best things to happen not only to the California card room business, but all of California.”
Adler has no concerns that online play could ‘cannibalize’ the land-based industry. The casino owner said that back in the day, before internet poker was banned in the state, “it made people play better, it kept their practice up, but more importantly, it bred a whole new generation of customers.”
One of the poker dealers at the casino told KBAK News that they wouldn’t trust an internet poker site over the real thing. But the fact of the matter is that regulating internet poker would actually make the activity just as safe as playing in a brick-and-mortar card room.
As Adler pointed out, legalization would give California State regulators the ability to monitor all activity to ensure that “all gaming takes place on a level playing field and that the cards are fair.”
All in all, everyone involved would benefit from the regulation of internet poker in California—even the pari-mutuel racing tracks if the dual bills introduced by Senator Hall and Assemblyman Gray are passed. “The consumers would be happy, and the taxpayers would be happy, and the state would be happy,” Adler told reporters.
According to just about every California online poker player that once partook in the activity prior to it becoming illegal will tell you that they are in favor of any bill that would allow PokerStars to participate. That includes AB 167, AB 431 and SB 238. Those three bills have little or no so-called ‘bad actors’ clause, whereas Gatto’s AB 9 is written in such a way that it could prevent the Amaya Gaming-owned internet poker giant from receiving a license to operate in the Golden State.
But again, one way or another, time is running short. Legislators have just one month left to decide whether or not any of the four California internet poker bills are worthy of approval. The deadline for their decision is March 26, 2015.