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Last month, Assemblyman Mike Gatto introduced a new California online poker bill to the 2015 legislative session. It’s received a great deal of critique thus far from legislators, land-based operators and the poker playing community. Yesterday, Gatto announced in a press release a series of major amendments under consideration.

According to the press release, Gatto spent the last two months congregating with experts in the fields of online commerce, security and technology before coming up with a list of revisions for his California online poker bill. While he affirmed that his mission to get online poker regulated remains the same, he also admitted that it could take a lot more time to hash out an efficient, final draft of the proposed measure.

“My goal remains creating a sensible framework for a new California industry,” Gatto said.  “That will involve a thoughtful process of consultation with all of the key stakeholders.  I pride myself in listening; I expect this process will continue throughout the year.”

Like all of the relative measures before it, Gatto’s AB 9 online poker bill aims to regulate the industry on an intrastate basis and put a stop to the millions of dollars syphoned into unregulated, offshore poker sites every year. But in doing so, the state must be able to provide a secure, trusted environment for California online poker players that supports locally owned businesses; not just the big-wig casinos and card rooms.

“The status quo is a lost opportunity,” Gatto explained.  “Californians already participate in online poker, but send their dollars overseas.  By regulating and legitimizing this industry we will increase security, protect business owners, and keep our money here in the Golden State.”

Gatto listed a number of probable revisions to the California online poker bill, which include:

In-Person Registration Requirement Scrapped

Gatto said that, after discussing the matter with security, technology and industry experts, he no longer believes it’s necessary to mandate in-person registrations. That will instead be an option, not a requirement. He concluded that, “State of the art technology currently used by operators in other states when registering players accesses many of the same databases used by financial institutions to verify the identity of registrants and prevent fraud.”
Live Tournament Obligation

The press release stated that Gatto is considering an amendment that would obligate California online poker operators to schedule a special, annual tournament in their brick-and-mortar establishments, encouraging more foot traffic in land-based casinos and card rooms.

Increased Enforcement against Unauthorized Operators

Gatto is also debating amendments that would increase the penalty to a felony for unauthorized sites that accept California online poker players. He then mentioned granting “additional resources” to help enforce laws against online poker sites that operate illegally in the state, although no specific details on what those resources might be were provided.

In closing, Gatto reiterated previous statements extolling the Golden State for its track record as a world leader in “computer and Internet innovation, including online security and screening”. He is certain California can maintain that leadership in the online poker industry as well by developing and integrating a “sensible” framework.

“These amendments are derived from time-tested business practices that have received significant support from stakeholders,” said Gatto, suggesting that lawmakers, “listen to feedback from experts as they seek to form sound public policy.”