California Online Poker Bill AB431 Passes Committee With Unanimous Vote

John Mehaffey April 27, 2015 984 Reads
CA online poker bill passes committee

California online poker bill AB 431 unanimously passed the Governmental Organization Committee on Monday. This is the first time an online poker bill has ever left committee in the state.

AB 431 is sponsored by Chairman Adam Gray. The bill is essentially a placeholder. AB 431 needed to pass out of committee before the May 1 deadline or it would have died for the session.

AB 431 is a shell bill with few details

AB 431 offers no specific framework for how online poker would be regulated. It does not address bad actors, whether the horseracing industry could participate, the amount a licensing fee would be, or the tax rate. This information will be debated at a later date. The main goal of Monday’s committee hearing was just to get the discussion advancing to the next step.

Most groups spoke in favor of AB 431. These included a variety of licensed card clubs and tribal gaming interests. Three groups were listed as opponents in the bill. Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Barona Band of Mission Indians, and Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians stated reasons that include a lack of discussion and the possible inclusion of bad actors.

For the purpose of the placeholder bill and in the interest of moving forward, these tribes entered neutral positions at the hearing.

Overwhelming support for bill at hearing with a lone opposer

Rev. James Butler of the Coalition Against Gambling Expansion stood as the only opponent of AB 431. He told the California Governmental Organization Committee, “We strongly oppose this bill.” Butler cited issues with problem gambling and the ease of access for minors.

No date has been set for further discussion on AB 431. Many details need to be worked out before it may advance to the full California Assembly.

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