California iPoker Bill Hearing Set For Wednesday

This year has started on an optimistic note as far as California’s poker players are concerned, as the first order of discussion at the Governmental Organization Committee of the California State Assembly on Wednesday, January 6th will be online poker bill AB 167.
In 2014, California had a number of online poker bills introduced to its legislature, including the Reggie Jones-Sawyer sponsored Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act (AB 167), although just one managed to advance out of the legislative committee. This year, there is renewed hope that online poker will achieve a greater level of momentum, and in addition to AB 167 being discussed by committee members this week, other online gambling bills will also be discussed at the hearing. This includes AB 1441, that seeks to regulate sports betting, and AB 1437, that is concerned with the daily fantasy sports industry.
Nevertheless, AB 167 has the word “Urgency” written next to it on the State Assembly’s Committee on Governmental Organization website, creating optimism that California legislators may finally be prepared to give online poker the push it needs to become regulated this year. According to AB 167, California’s horse racing industry, card rooms and Indian tribes would be permitted to run online poker sites, with each operator then paying 8.5% of their gross earnings as taxes. However, there is no mention on any “bad actor” clause, thus paving the way for PokerStars to legally enter the regulated market.
California is the USA’s most populous state with almost 39 million people, more than quadruple the size of New Jersey with 8.9 million people. Each month, New Jersey generates around $12 million in iGaming revenues, with poker representing roughly $2 million of that figure. Despite California seeking to regulate just iPoker, and no other casino gambling games, it is believed that the state could generate around $384 million from iPoker revenues alone once the market matures, according to a report produced by Academicon and PokerScout.

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