Two-For-One: Online Poker Bills In California, Pennsylvania See Progress On Same Day

June 23, 2016
Two-For-One: Online Poker Bills In California, Pennsylvania See Progress On Same Day

The steps taken this week regarding online poker and gambling bills in Pennsylvania and California this week were admittedly small.

But any day during which two “yes” votes take place regarding iGaming has to be viewed as a good one for the online poker industry.

First: California bill moves forward

First up on Wednesday was the California Assembly Appropriations Committee. On the agenda: An online poker bill about a decade in the making, seemingly with its best chance of becoming law of any of its predecessors.

That bill — AB 2863 — passed the committee 14-1. While that may sound like an overwhelming majority and a huge step, any optimism needs to be tempered.

First, an online poker bill made it past this same committee just a year ago. It eventually died on the vine, without ever seeing another vote.

Second, the vote belies the actual support it received. Most of the members on the committee voted for the bill to pass with serious reservations, and with a promise from its sponsor — Assemblymember Adam Gray — to work on the bill further on the Assembly floor.

The bill faces an uncertain future in the Assembly, certainly, and an uncharted path in the Senate, if it gets there.

Still, a previously scheduled hearing had been delayed to consider new amendments, so the fact that the bill resurfaced just a week later was a positive development.

Online poker has a way to go in California, but at least it’s still being discussed.

Second: Pennsylvania online gambling stays alive

The progress on online gambling in Pennsylvania was in some ways less impressive and more important, at the same time.

California tackled iGaming in the morning, and Pennsylvania dug into the topic in the afternoon.

When it came up, a bill regarding daily fantasy sports was only amended to include online gambling and a variety of gaming expansions in the state.

But tracing the history of the iGaming effort in the state — which has seen a number of stops, starts and detours — this looks like a really promising development. An amendment allowing video gaming terminals at small, private businesses was defeated, meaning the bill has a much better chance of passage in the state Senate.

The bill still has to make it through a committee hearing, the House, and then the Senate. But it appears the legislature is depending on the bill to generate revenue for the state budget.

Will Pennsylvania or California make it happen?

Reading the tea leaves in the two states can be difficult. California might still be an underdog to legalize online poker this year, and Pennsylvania appears to be a favorite.

Either way, it’s unprecedented progress for iGaming legislation that has largely been met with defeat after defeat in recent years.

For one day, at least, things went online poker’s way. Will there be more days like it in the future?

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