Influential state politicians introduce a "place-marker" bill to the state Senate and House
The Californian online poker legalisation scene just became more interesting following the introduction in the state House and Senate of a new bill authored by two powerful state politicians.
State Sen. Isadore Hall and Assemblyman Adam Gray are respectively the chairs of the Senate and the House Governmental Organization committees, putting considerable clout behind the bill, titled SB278 and AB431.
The Governmental Organization committees are responsible for oversight on gambling bills (amongst others) and represent a strong launchpad for new measures.
At present it appears as if the bills are "place-holders" in order to secure positioning before the February 27 cut-off date for new legislation in this session; there is therefore little substantive detail in the short form filings, which run to a mere three pages.
It is not presently known whether the bill contains controversial "bad actor" or racetrack exclusionary clauses.
The new bill joins measures introduced earlier this year to the House by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (AB9) and Reggie Jones Sawyer (AB167) which have been the subject of extensive debate by interested parties, especially in the tribal sector (see previous InfoPowa reports).
The Pokerstars, Morongo, San Manuel and Californian Card Rooms coalition has been quick to comment on the new bill, issuing a statement that asserts:
"We are optimistic about iPoker chances this year now that Senator Isadore Hall and Assembly Member Adam Gray have each introduced an iPoker spot bill this week (SB 278-Hall and AB 431-Gray). As Governmental Organization Committee chairs, this is a significant development and underscores that momentum is building to get an iPoker bill across the finish line in 2015.
"We will continue to work closely with Senator Hall, Assembly Member Gray and all legislators on the content and approach of legislation in the coming weeks and months.
"Our position on iPoker policy remains the same. We support an iPoker bill which establishes a vibrant, competitive, fully inclusive marketplace with choices for consumers, and which also enacts strong consumer protections; requires strict oversight and regulation of operators and licensees; and ensures a financial return for the state.
"Our coalition strongly believes that to be successful passing iPoker legislation this year, the various interests need to work together. We must abandon the failed policies of the past that divided the various parties. Instead of using the legislative process to pick winners and losers, any successful legislation must allow for a variety of providers to participate in the market while relying on regulators to determine strict suitability standards."
Senator Hall and Assemblyman Gray have also issued a statement, commenting on their identical bills:
"SB 278, by Senator Hall and AB 431 by Assembly member Gray, would specifically authorize the operation of an iPoker website within California's borders and would require the California Gambling control Commission in consultation with the California Department of Justice to prepare regulations for the operation of an iPoker website.
"Federal law essentially prohibits online gambling in the United States but does allow individual states to offer intrastate Internet gaming, subject to state regulation to prevent gambling by minors or persons located outside of the state. Currently, only Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey allow for various forms of legal intrastate Internet gaming.
"For over five years, a discussion of authorizing iPoker within California has remained only a discussion.
No California legislator has ever cast a vote on an iPoker proposal.
"Hall and Gray serve as Chairmen of each legislative house's policy committee that oversees gaming within the state and are best positioned to lead a productive dialogue on an iPoker regulatory framework.
By working together, their legislation seeks to build consensus on a public policy matter that has eluded California for years.
"The issue of iPoker in California has historically been divisive; dealing legislators, the governor and the public a folding hand," said Senator Hall and Assembly member Gray. "It is time to work together, stop bluffing and take control of this issue. Our bills do not create winners and losers. Our bills do not take one entity's side over another. Our bills will give the Legislature, the Governor, tribal governments, other gaming entities, technology providers and the public an opportunity to have an open, honest and thorough debate on this issue."
"This will not be a rushed process," continued Hall and Gray. "Any iPoker proposal must put California taxpayers first and must ensure a safe and responsible entertainment option for adults. If done correctly, this legislation could serve as a national model for other states to follow. We think we can do it and we're all in to move California iPoker forward this legislative session."
In a subsequent statement, Assemblyman Gray noted:
"This iPoker proposal must include a strong regulatory framework that protects Californians. We need to crack down on illegal online gaming and replace it with a safe and responsible entertainment option for adults, which includes safeguards against compulsive and underage gambling, money laundering, fraud, and identity theft.
"AB 431 by Assembly member Gray and SB 278 by Senator Hall would specifically authorize the operation of an iPoker website within California's borders and would require the California Gambling Control Commission in consultation with the California Department of Justice to prepare regulations for the operation of an iPoker website.
"Illegal online gambling happens every day in California on sites operated by unknown persons located in countries throughout the world. Neither state nor federal laws provide any consumer protections or safeguards," said Assembly member Gray.
Senator Hall added:
"We intend to develop a framework in California that can be a national model. This will not be a rushed process. We look forward to moderating an open, honest, and thorough debate."
"California needs a strong law that puts a stop to illegal online gambling."
Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa