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California Online Poker Bill Shelved For 2014

Legislation From Sen. Lou Correa Runs Out Of Time

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Online poker efforts in California this year took a hit yesterday.

According to the L.A. Times, state Sen. Lou Correa said that he is shelving his online poker bill for 2014. The other bill in the legislature, sponsored by Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, has not had any traction and appears to be drawing slim.

There just isn’t enough time in the current legislative session to get the votes, according to the report. For the past five years, online poker in California has been doomed by gaming interests in the state, both commercial and tribal, being unable to come to a consensus on all the provisions in a bill. It’s an immensely complex issue that will create winners and losers.

Just to name one example: Some want the so-called “bad actor clause” in a bill, which would prohibit a firm like PokerStars—the largest of its kind in the world in terms of traffic—from being involved, at least immediately. Others, especially PokerStars’ partner, want no such provision.

According to the L.A. Times, Las Vegas casino boss Sheldon Adelson has spent $309,000 during the last nine months to try to thwart progress on web gaming legislation in California.

Adelson, owner of Las Vegas Sands Corp., is against online gaming in the United States because he thinks it will take away from the brick-and-mortar side of things.

California is looking to legalize Internet poker only.

This year is an election year in the Golden State, and that makes it also less likely for the politics to be right for something to be done before 2015, according to I. Nelson Rose, a leading expert on U.S. gaming law. Rose is confident it will be legalized eventually, though.

The snail’s pace on this issue presumably has caused one tribe in California to venture into the online gaming space on its own, without Internet poker legalization. The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel recently established a poker platform, saying that it is able to do so because of its sovereign rights under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Currently, just Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have web gambling industries.

California is the most populous state in the country and considered big enough to support a healthy web poker industry on its own, without having to partner.