Online Poker is Dead in 2015 According to Tribal Lobbyist

Written By James Guill on June 16, 2015
The hope for an online poker bill to pass in California this year is basically none according to high up lobbyists.

Remember last month when Senator Isadore Hall failed to attend the Joint Informational hearing by the Assembly and Senate GO committees? Well now, we may know why, and it is not what Californians want to hear.

Capitol Weekly released an article earlier this month claiming that internet poker has been stalled in California. The reason being that Hall apparently plans to shelve online poker legislation in 2015, a move that isn’t surprising due to the lack of true movement on either side.

Internet Poker is Dead Says Tribal Lobbyist

The report was written based on claims made by California Tribal Business Alliance attorney David Quintana. Quintana and several other interested parties met with Hall earlier this month and Quintana has taken assurances back to several tribes that online poker isn’t happening this year.

According to Quintana, Hall “will not be setting or hearing any internet poker bills this year.” He went on to say, “Online poker is dead. There was no momentum. He’s not going to hear the bills.”

This revelation comes less than three weeks after AB 431 emerged from the Assembly Appropriations Committee and moved to the Assembly floor for a vote. A vote is currently being delayed until hearings on iPoker conclude this summer.

Should Hall confirm these reports, it would virtually guarantee that the bill wouldn’t be move past the Assembly or would at best fail in the Senate. Hall failed to attend last month’s hearing on the bill and it is unlikely that he will attend the hearing scheduled for later this month.

Gray Tries Keep Hope Alive for Bill

AB 431 sponsor Adam Gray is remaining optimistic for the bill’s chances. According to Gray, “This issue is alive – very much so. We’re in the process of holding stakeholder meetings. Do we want to establish a framework for internet poker or do we want to do nothing? Those are the only two choices.”

AB 9 sponsor Assemblyman Mike Gatto appears a bit more reserved on the chances for an online poker bill. He stated that, “Now, perhaps it seems a little idealistic. Online poker has proven difficult.”

Two hearings remain for online poker, meaning further discussion regarding AB 431, AB 9 and even AB 167. However, it seems less and less likely that any real movement will happen and this will pick up once again starting in early 2016.

Are We Really Surprised Based on Recent Events?

Recent events have been pointing to an eventual shelving of online poker in the state despite movement of AB 437 to the Assembly floor. The Pechanga coalition has changed their stance from neutral to opposed regarding the bill due to a lack of details.

Next, the Viejas tribe has started taking out print and radio ads blasting PokerStars and bad actors in general. This move was seen as tribes digging in their heels regarding bad actors. Furthermore, race tracks seem to only want full participation in iPoker while tribes prefer zero participation.

As long as these issues remain unresolved, there’s zero chance that a bill will pass in California be it in 2015 or 2020. Less time should be spent pushing through shell bills and more on coming to a compromise that would allow a bill to pass into law.

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James Guill

Originally a semi-professional player, James transitioned to the media side in 2008. Since then he has made a name for himself reporting for some of the top names in the industry. When not covering the poker world, James travels around central Virginia hunting for antique treasure.

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