Gatto Declares His California Online Poker Bill Dead

John Mehaffey July 6, 2015 1214 Reads

California Assemblyman Mike Gatto declared AB 9, his California online poker bill, currently dead.

Why now?

In a statement, Gatto described the issues finding a consensus among stakeholders among the reasons for pulling his bill. Gatto noted that his bill has an urgency clause, meaning it could return for debate, should interested parties reach a compromise.

A bill with an urgency clause becomes law immediately, if passed. It requires a two-thirds vote in the California Assembly and Senate.

A hearing in the Governmental Organization Committee last month showed that a consensus on Internet poker in California is far from reality. Racetracks insist on being a part of the industry as operators. The PokerStars coalition insists on omission of a bad actor clause that would legislate the world’s largest online poker site out of California.

The tribal coalition led by Pechanga insists on the exclusion of racetracks and PokerStars as operators in the state. Pechanga Tribal Chairman Marc Macarro did offer a compromise at last month’s GO Committee hearing.

Macarro proposed allowing racetracks to participate in a revenue-sharing agreement, perhaps through an affiliate or skin arrangement. Racetracks have not publicly stated a willingness to accept this offer as a compromise to operating online poker rooms.

Still other bills that are in the mix

Assemblyman Adam Gray’s AB 431 appears to be the most likely bill to advance California online poker. The bill already passed committee. It is a shell bill that does not yet address tax rates or licensing requirements. Reggie Jones-Sawyer’s AB 167 is also still alive.

California is the most important state for the advancement of regulated U.S. online poker. It appears that the odds are long that anything will happen in California this year. Pennsylvania is the favorite to become the fourth state to legalize and regulate online poker.

Photo courtesy of Assembylman Gatto’s website.

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