California iGaming Week in Review: New Poll Results, Hearing Coverage

Posted on May 1, 2014

It’s been quite a busy week on the online poker front in California.

Ever since last Wednesday’s online poker hearing the rumors, commentary, and information has been flying nonstop, and while there haven’t been many lawmakers or principles speaking out in the wake of the hearing, the iGaming world – including pundits like me – have certainly been busy offering up their thoughts on what took place in the state capitol last week.

In this installment of California iGaming Week in Review I’ll point you towards some of this excellent commentary from California Gambler along with some details from the recently released California LAO’s handout from the hearing. I’ll also offer a couple of new thoughts on last week’s hearing.

In this column you’ll also find some details on a new poll conducted by the pro-online gaming group C4COP that sheds some light on how Californians view online poker regulation, and a whole lot more.

CaliforniaGambler.com’s coverage of online poker hearing

If you missed any of our comprehensive coverage of the explosive online poker hearing last Wednesday in the State Assembly here are a few links to get you caught up on what happened, starting with the bombshell press release by PokerStars and several different points of view from CaliforniaGambler.com contributors:

Breaking: Morongo and Key Card Rooms Formally Announce PokerStars Agreement

Hearing Wrapup: PokerStars and Their CA Partners Have Drawn Their Line in the Sand

24 Things We Learned at the California Online Poker Hearing

Partnership With Morongo Does Not Guarantee PokerStars Entry into California iGaming Market

Possible Implications of PokerStars Joining California’s Regulated iGaming Market

Overall the hearing wasn’t as educational as some others (such as the Massachusetts hearing back in March) but it was certainly informative as to where the different interests in California are aligned and which lawmakers are backing which interests.

It should also be noted that there was no real opposition to online poker from the committee; California’s lawmakers seem ready to pass a bill as long as they have the go-ahead from the state’s key gaming interests.

For instance, even when Andy Abboud and the other panelists gave their testimony decrying online poker as a moral plague nobody from the committee stood up and said “You are right, this is madness, won’t anyone think of the children!”

C4COP poll shows 68% of Californians support regulating online poker

Some more good news coming out of California this week is a poll conducted by the Coalition for Consumer Online Protection (a lobbying group representing pro-online gambling interests) that shows 68% of Californians are for regulated online poker.

These results fly in the face of the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (the lobbying group of Sheldon Adelson that opposes online gambling) findings, which once again proves that poll results are quite dependent on the phrasing of the questions.

Perhaps the best result advocates can point to from the new poll was that a mere 27% were opposed to online gambling altogether.

Legislative Analyst’s Office findings

Last week’s hearing got started with the Legislative Analyst’s Office explaining their findings to the committee – the committee asked the office to put together a presentation on online poker around the nation and the potential impact in California.

This type of research is standard operating procedure in legislative bodies and California is no exception.

Basically what these analysts do is look at similar measures in other states and jurisdictions, as well as any applicable data from California that can be used to layout a template of what the online poker in the state could look like, and if there will be any conflicts with current statutes or interests.

Overall the findings seem to indicate there would be little issue with passing an online poker bill in the state, with just some minor legal questions needing to be resolved, mainly centered around the current tribal compacts and how revenue sharing would work between them.

You can read the LAO’s complete report here: Authorizing Online Poker in California

California iGaming Barometer

Considering the tense exchanges concerning PokerStars, and the theatrics of the mid-hearing press release, I came away from the hearing feeling pretty positive about potential online poker legislation in the state.

Lawmakers certainly want it, and if they can just come to an agreeable position on PokerStars (should they be barred via the legislation or should the regulators make the determination as to the company’s suitability) there is really nothing preventing an iPoker bill from passing.

The only other points of contention seem to be the horse racing industry, which, no offense to them, is a lobby that has little power remaining, and they could always be aided through tax relief from the online poker revenues or even involved in some type of revenue sharing.

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Steve Ruddock

Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including OnlinePokerReport.com, PlayNJ.com, USPoker.com, and USA Today.

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