California iPoker Falters As DFS Bill Makes Progress

At the start of 2016, there were high hopes that the slow push towards regulated iPoker in the USA would receive a boost from the state of California. On January 6th, a hearing was scheduled to be held by the Assembly Governmental Organisation Committee, with its first order of discussion being Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer’s (photo) iPoker bill AB 167. The piece of legislation was even marked as urgent on the Committee’s website, but as has often been the case with iPoker legislation the bill failed to make any ground.
In fact, AB 167 was pulled from the Committee’s agenda altogether without receiving any debate, with pressure for the move coming from the state’s disparate group of gaming interests, many of whom vehemently oppose any participation in a future Californian iPoker industry by either horseracing operations, or PokerStars.
In the meantime, the Assembly Governmental Organisation Committee chose to take a vote on daily fantasy sports bill AB 1437, which is sponsored by Adam Gray, who also happens to be the committee’s chairman. During the hearing, Gray had argued that DFS legislation was needed in order to protect the consumer rights of the numerous Californian who continue to play on unregulated sites. The rest of the committee evidently concurred, and the bill subsequently enjoyed an almost unanimous level of support.
Several steps still remain before AB 1437 is placed before the full Assembly, though, with its next stop the Appropriations Committee. In addition, the bill is likely to face some fierce resistance from many of the same gambling groups who have stymied attempts to regulate online poker. As California Nations Indian Gaming Association chairman Steve Stallings, explains:
“AB 167 represents one of the last in a series of I-Poker bills, which, unlike AB 1441 and AB 1437, were thoroughly vetted, debated, altered, massaged, and continually passed over with the hope of a political miracle of consensus in the next year. The regulation of fantasy sports is well intended; however, the state needs to prove it can deal with one online game – I-Poker – before it takes on others.”

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