But deep divisions clearly exist, and Republican committee members withheld votes
California Assemblyman Adam Gray's AB431 online poker legalisation bill made it out of its second Assembly committee – the Appropriations Committee – Thursday although interested parties and committee members remain divided on its future content.
Early but still unconfirmed reports indicated that the 17-member committee, made up of 12 Democrats and 5 Republicans, progressed the bill to the Assembly floor, but that at least some of the Republicans withheld their votes and were categorised as "no vote recorded".
The bill will remain inactive on the floor pending two further public hearings, scheduled for June 24 and July 8 (see previous InfoPowa reports).
The Amaya-Pokerstars, Morongo, San Manual and 3 Cardrooms alliance issued a statement on the bill's progress, noting:
"Success is achievable this year when parties come together to collaborate in the best interests of Californians. Toward that end, we've seen a growing coalition coming together in the interest of passing a bill that creates an open, competitive marketplace that protects consumers, provides a financial return for the state, and establishes a strong regulatory system."
The statement goes on to caution that there is still much work ahead on drafting language that meets the requirements of all interested parties, but it expresses optimism on the bill's prospects if all stakeholders "seriously engage in the process".
The statement ends with a commitment to work at reconciling the remaining differences of opinion, and the hope that other parties would do the same.
The Rincon tribal group also issued a statement commending the Appropriations Committee for progressing AB431 and commenting:
"Internet poker has been a hotly debated issue for more than a half decade. In the past, progress to reach a compromise stalled once legislation failed to move forward. However, by allowing Internet poker legislation to proceed, lines of communication between stakeholders remain open, allowing the potential for a beneficial resolution between all parties.
"While Internet poker legislation is still evolving, we will continue to work diligently towards a consensus."
However, the main opposition to racetrack and "bad actor" involvement in the California market, the Pechanga-led tribal coalition, had not commented when InfoPowa went to press, and appears to remain unmoved on its demand that companies like Pokerstars and the racetracks be excluded from the market by any emerging online poker legislation.
The lawmakers will have one eye on June 5, which is the procedural deadline for proposed measures to progress out of the house of origin – in this case the state Assembly – but observers have already noted that there are work-arounds that can be employed to circumvent that problem.
With AB431 now out of committee but temporarily frozen on the floor – the furthest any Californian online poker legalisation bill has ever progressed in the last seven years – attention will now turn to the joint Assembly-Senate Government Organization Committee hearing on June 24, when further informational testimony will be heard.
Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa