California Internet Poker Efforts Over for 2017September 26, 2017 1:57 pm
After an initial flurry of activity at the start of 2017, any hopes that California might soon become the fourth US state to legalize online poker in the country soon faltered by April as disparate parties proved unable to bridge their differences. Little has been heard from the Golden State on the issue since then, and with the California legislature session having closed for the year on September 15th, so ends the 10th year of failed internet poker efforts in California.
Ironically, California was originally a pioneer in its efforts to explore online poker legalization, with legislators having given consideration to the issue soon after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed in 2006. State Senator Roderick Wright subsequently introduced the state’s first official internet poker bill, called SB 51, back in 2010, with other pieces of legislation following suit in 2013, including those introduced by Assemblymen Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Mike Gatto, and Adam Gray.
Needless to say, all efforts have ultimately failed to gather enough support from interested parties based in California, with the most significant hurdle being to find a common ground between the numerous Native American tribes, licensed cardrooms, and pari-mutuel racing operators within the state. Also clouding the issue further was the possible participation of PokerStars in a regulated online poker market, with many gaming interests either seeing the online poker company as a threat to a nascent iPoker market, or alternatively as its best bet.
Efforts to address concerns by proposing that PokerStars would be excluded from operating in California for five years post regulation was subsequently rejected by the company’s allies, with tensions between the different gaming groups continuing to remain ever since. As a result, no constructive discussions have taken place on the matter since April 2017, with any future progress not expected until after January 3, 2018, when the legislature reconvenes.
Unfortunately, post-Black Friday the online poker market has shrunk considerably, though, resulting in even less motivation for states to exert efforts promoting the game. Moreover, a decade of failed attempts has left online poker advocates with a sense of exhaustion, although hope springs eternal and with some concessions being made, maybe 2018 will finally prove to be the year when an elusive resolution to the issue is finally found.