The US state of California is potentially looking to legalize and regulate online poker as it considers a new Assembly bill this week. The issue of online poker in California had previously been discussed in 2015 but no firm action had ever been taken on the subject.
Assembly Bill 167 will be put forward to the California Assembly Governmental Organization Committee for discussion on Wednesday this week by Assembly member Reginald Jones-Sawyer who is spearheading the movement to legalize online poker in the state. Although previous Assembly members have unsuccessfully attempted to initiate legislation for online poker in California in recent years, Jones-Sawyer’s bill may be more likely to prove fruitful. It is viewed as a compromise between all the parties involved and is thought to have much more support behind it than previous bill attempts.
Obstacles to the legislation passing have primarily included the fact that the major stakeholders in California’s lucrative casino gambling market being unable to reach an agreement on who should be allowed entry into a new online poker market in the state. Californian casinos are increasingly wary of online poker sites usurping their profits if the game becomes legalised in the state.
Online poker could potentially generate huge revenue in California. It is estimated that the state’s online poker market could possibly bring in a yearly total of $380 million to the economy, however, many are still reluctant when it comes to legislating for online poker.
This hearing is just a preliminary start on the long process of creating new legislation within the state. There won’t be a vote on moving the bill to the State Assembly for the time being, and it will be some time before a bill is presented to the California State Senate, which is the legislating body that would draft the new bill. However, if the Assembly Bill 167 garners enough support this week, it is hoped that it will progress forward to the next level soon.