The sun could be setting for 2015 online poker legalization in the Golden State. News out of the California Assembly on Thursday could spell the death knell not just for one of California’s online poker bills but possibly for the issue in general until 2016.
According to KCRA Sacramento, Assemblyman Mike Gatto‘s bill will not be heard as part of Governmental Organization hearing next week. He states that he is shelving AB 9 due to a lack of consensus on internet poker. The upcoming hearing is the last hearing on online poker and Gatto’s cancellation effectively closes the door on the bill in 2015.
Gatto Claims Shelving Bill is Right Thing to Do
Gatto issued a statement about his decision to shelve the bill on Thursday. Here is the statement in its entirety:
“I am canceling next week’s hearing of my Assembly Bill 9. I believe this is the right thing to do at this point because there is no consensus on the issue yet. My bill has an “urgency” clause, and thus it can be resuscitated at any time.
Over the past three years, I have met with representatives from nearly every software provider, card room, gaming tribe, racetrack, and internet-poker operator who has an opinion on the subject. I gave my word to both supporters and opponents of AB 9 that my goal was consensus, and that I would not move forward with anything that achieved less than that.
I will continue working to craft legislation on which the interested parties can agree, and which is good for the people and treasury of the state of California.”
Gatto’s decision to shelve the bill does not come as a surprise considering his overall pessimism on the bill’s passage. Despite being a supporter of the measure, he went from being cautiously optimistic of AB 9’s passage in 2015 to claiming that the measure had a 40% chance to pass in the next two years.
Will Other Lawmakers Follow Suit?
The question now remains whether other lawmakers will continue to pursue online poker this year or roll their bills over to 2016. Reggie Jones-Sawyer‘s AB 167 and Adam Gray‘s AB 431 are still active but the only one with any type of momentum is AB 431.
We use the term momentum lightly because AB 431 is still a shell bill with few details. The bill is currently in a holding pattern awaiting the conclusion of hearings, but it still needs to address both race tracks and bad actors and time is running out.
At this point, don’t be surprise if the sponsors of other bills slow start moving towards rolling their bills over to 2016 in order to work out issues with the race tracks and the Pechanga coalition.
Even PokerStars looks to have taken a long-term approach to the problem and is focusing on their propaganda tour to “spread the word” about legalization. Gatto’s withdrawal is likely the beginning of the end for online poker in 2015 with everything starting over again come late December or early January.