CA wants to bribe operators into not offering online poker
Two assemblymen in California have introduced a bill that aims at keeping horse racing tracks from offering online poker in the states. Assembly Bill (AB) 2863 was submitted by Adam Gray and Reginald Jones-Sawyer and would see the horse racing industry received $60 million each year, provided they don't operate poker sites. The bill is part of the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2016 and is essentially a bribe to keep the industry out of poker.
Poker is a contentious subject in The Golden State and online poker is just as hotly debated. The state's tribes continually push for complete control of the gambling industry, while operators try to figure out ways to overcome the tribes' stronghold. Governor Jerry Brown has been supportive of increased expansion and inclusion of other operators, but Brown is on his way out and the operators may lose their ace.
Eventually, online poker in California is expected to be part of the landscape. The state is working on legislation that would see the industry receive legal support almost two years from now. However, AB 2863 also includes some stipulations that have caused concern among the state's poker community. There is language in the bill that would make it a felony to play at unregulated poker sites if the legislation is passed. Since the industry wouldn't be legalized for 21 months, players would not be able to play for almost two years, or face felony punishment.
The bill also only allows for intrastate poker, which means that operators wouldn't be able to join player liquidity sharing pools. A social security number would be required to play, which would lead to the exclusion of all foreigner poker players and could also be seen as a security risk.
Several states have already begun to embrace online poker. Whether it is accepted in others, such as California, will depend on how much money is donated to either side of the argument.