Those supporting the legalization of online poker in the US state of California have reasons to become more optimistic, with some more developments happening in the case. On the 8th of June some amendments to the bill were announced, including a graduated tax rate on gross gambling revenue from 8.47% to 15% and a licensing fee of $12.5 million.
Big players in the online poker world such as Pokerstars and Full Tilt are on board with the new developments, as they include adjustments to the clause in US gambling legislature which would now allow the companies to participate in the California online poker market. These companies had originally been excluded from accepting money from US customers.
The likes of PokerStars and Full Tilt are now on board with the newest version of the California bill, but a group of six other gambling groups were less happy with the developments. They have released a statement objecting to the new bill, outlining that, “Although we have made some progress under your leadership, we regret that your amendments … related to suitability standards and taxation force us to oppose the bill.” They now stand in opposition to the PokerStars coalition, while more lawmakers got into the mix, such as the Appropriations Chairperson Lorena Gonzalez.
A hearing on the new bill was due to take place on the 15th of June but was postponed. Despite this, the Appropriations Committee did pass AB 2863 one week later on June 22nd. The new version of the bill then went on to the Assembly floor, where it now awaits discussion in the House of Representatives before a future vote. The opposing side was so angered by the movement that they threatened a “robust discussion” in the Assembly and would release the results of a push poll that showed most Californians actually oppose online poker legislation being amended.
Gray and other supporters of AB 2863 can try to push it through the Assembly and then Senate despite the objections of the opposing Pechanga group, which could also stop the bill in its tracks and prevent any further movement on the bill before the deadline at the end of August. The Pechanga group seems to be standing firm on the objection to the bad actor language in the bill and they so far refuse to make any compromises which would potentially allow PokerStars into the California online poker market.
Supporters of the Californian poker bill are still in talks with the opposition. There will be two months left to find a compromise or take a risk on the bill. There must still be time to pass the bill through the Assembly, then move it to the Senate floor for discussion and a vote, and finally send it to Governor Jerry Brown for final approval.