Friday August 5,2016 : CONFLICTING REPORTS ON CALIFORNIA ONLINE POKER LEGALISATION (Update)
Have new "bad actor" restrictions created a split in opposition to AB 2863?
With the California legislature back at work the future of Assemblyman Adam Grays AB 2863 online poker legalization bill is again attracting attention, with Grays chief of staff Trent Hager claiming that the bill will go to the Assembly floor as early as next Monday, perhaps as part of a drive to legalise daily fantasy sports.
That prospect was to some extent diluted by comments made by state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, who told the Los Angeles Times this week that he was in no rush to approve such a bill should it emerge intact from the Assembly and head to the Senate.
The usually well-informed Online Poker Report quoted sources who claimed that yet another compromise on the tough "bad actor" provisions of AB 2863 is on offer, and that this may be creating a split in the Pechanga-Agua Caliente alliance of tribes who have been the main opponents of legalization.
This compromise has not been officially confirmed but apparently consists of a "mid-way" arrangement somewhere between the draconian proposals on "bad actors" of the Pechanga-Agua Caliente alliance and the more moderate proposal originally put forward by Assemblyman Gray.
The Pechanga-Agua Caliente have proposed that operators who serviced the US market in defiance of the 2006 UIGEA be precluded from obtaining licensing in a regulated California market for at least 10 years, and only then after paying a $60 million fine.
That contrasts with Grays suggestion that "bad actors" be excluded from licensing for 5 years, although they could get around that on payment of a $20 million penalty.
Most observers agree that a 10 year delay and a $60 million fine is overly harsh and likely to deter most "bad actors", although California is a hugely attractive potential market.
It did not resonate positively with the Pokerstars coalition of cardrooms and tribal groups, with the "bad actor" stumbling block seemingly designed specifically to keep the international online poker giant out of the market.
Amaya, the parent group of Pokerstars, has in the past expressed strong opposition to this sort of restriction, claiming it violates commercial aspects of the US constitution.
So far there has been no official comment from any of the interested parties on the new compromise, with the information emanating from unidentified sources.
Those sources have given conflicting opinions on the latest development to OPR, leaving the issue open to further speculation…and possibly something more concrete if AB 2863 does indeed go to the Assembly floor next week.
Time has again become an important factor in the latest drive for legalization in California; the state legislature is scheduled to adjourn around the end of August, and that does not leave a lot of leeway to get a legalization bill through both the Assembly and the Senate.