After weeks of inactivity, we finally have some movement on the California iPoker legislative front. On Wednesday, Online Poker Report revealed that joint hearings were in the works regarding internet poker regulation in the state.
On Thursday, Chris Krafcik of Gambling Compliance Inc. revealed the dates of those dates via Twitter:
#CA #gambling and #Internet #gambling hearing dates confirmed for 5/20 and 6/24.
— Chris Krafcik (@CKrafcik) April 16, 2015
The first hearing, Overview of Gambling in California – Legality, Authorization and Regulation, will be held on May 20 and has a 1:30 pm PDT start time. This will be followed up with a hearing on June 24 titled The Legality of Internet Poker – How Prepared is California to Regulate It? This hearing also has a 1:30 pm PDT start time.
Agenda on Hearings Unclear
At present, all we know is that hearings will be taking place but the purpose of these hearings is uncertain. Furthermore, little is known regarding who will testify at these hearings. It can be assumed that representatives from major stakeholders as well as anti-iPoker lobbyists will testify at one or both hearings.
The second hearing poses a question that many in the United States are wondering at this point. Is California prepared to regulate online poker? Looking at the constant bickering between stakeholders, one has to wonder if these hearings will do little more than shine a brighter light on the issues currently being debated.
Did Pennsylvania Influence California to Hold Hearings?
In recent weeks, Pennsylvania has been making huge strides towards online gambling regulation. After holding hearings with casino executives in March, the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee held their first iGaming hearing on Thursday. This hearing was seen as mainly positive with testimony covering topics including gaming security, geolocation, regulation and even how many jobs iGaming in PA would create.
Meanwhile, California has largely been moot outside of rumors and speculation. Pennsylvania’s push to legalize the game may have been an influencing factor forcing lawmakers in California to get the ball rolling on hearings.
Unfortunately, there are too many issues currently needing to be ironed out to believe that California will be able to legalize iPoker in 2015. Tribes have yet to reach any type of a consensus regarding iPoker and bad actors. The rumored partnership between the Pechanga and PokerStars doesn’t look to have gone anywhere and some have even claimed that this was a false rumor.
Then there is the matter of the horse racing industry. Pechanga is against allowing horse racetracks from participating despite the belief by many that iPoker cannot move forward without their involvement. Furthermore, Governor Jerry Brown has stated that he would veto any iPoker bill that didn’t address the horse racing industry in some fashion.
Note that he said address the industry. It doesn’t necessarily mean that racetracks have to be licensed, but some type of arrangement has to be made. One proposed arrangement was to provide revenue sharing to racetracks, a proposal that the horse racing industry is presently against.
Granted, the first hearing is a month away and this leaves parties time to possibly work towards a compromise. If California wants to legalize iPoker in 2015, parties will have to move swiftly in order to achieve this goal. Otherwise, they may have to pull a page out of the Chicago Cubs playbook and “wait until next year.”