Earlier this month, we reported that California politicians believed that the potential for legalization and regulation of online poker in the state was “dead” for 2013. That suspicion has now come to pass. According to a tweet by the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), nothing will happen with any online poker bills this legislative session, which is slated to end September 6th.
Specifically, the PPA tweeted, “Update CA: sources confirm that amended Correa bill will not be brought up b4 end of session. work on iPoker to continue over Fall recess.”
The Correa bill is Senate Bill 678, the “Authorization and Regulation of Internet Poker and Consumer Protection Act of 2013,” authored by State Senator Lou Correa. It would authorize internet poker as a legal game in the state of California, provide a licensing framework for operators, and layout all the rules and regulations for the game, among other things. As is the case in the three states that have already legalized online poker – Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey – the games would be restricted to players who are at least 21-years old and located within California state borders.
The news that intrastate online poker won’t happen in California this year comes just a day after Senator Correa amended SB 678 to make it an urgency statute. As an urgency statute, it must be ratified by two-thirds of the combined legislature, but would take effect immediately once the Governor signs it into law. Correa gave his reasoning for the urgency change right in the bill, writing, “In order to protect the interests of Californians who play Internet, poker games and to ensure that people play fair games, that the state realizes the revenues, and that suitable persons operate intrastate Internet poker games, it is necessary that this act take effect immediately.”
He also made the bill severable, meaning that if anything in the bill is “invalid,” that portion can just be cut from the bill while the rest of the legislation moves forward.
It has been a tough road for online poker in California, despite the fact that it is one of the most live poker-friendly states in the country. The problem is essentially that there are too many cooks in the kitchen. There are so many entities that have skin in the game, from card rooms to horse racing tracks to Native American tribes, that nobody can agree on who will be eligible for online poker licenses and how the kitty will be divided.
California would be the top prize in online poker in the United States, as it is by far the most populous state in the nation. With 38 million residents, it is head and shoulders above Texas, which is home to 26 million people. Add to that the multitudes of tourists that visit the state every day and you have a huge market for internet poker. It would be the must-have partner for any states looking to form online poker compacts to grow their player pools.