Sunday July 19,2015 : CALIFORNIA POKER – JONES-SAWYER BILL NOT DEAD YET (Update)
Controversial AB167 will be discussed at August hearing.
It appears that assessments earlier this month that California Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer's online poker legalization bill was dead may have been premature.
The assumptions that the bill, titled "Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2015", had been shelved following its withdrawal from the agenda of a July 8 committee hearing have turned out to be wrong, and AB167 is still alive and set for discussion at a hearing in late August by the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee.
Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer introduced his bill (and not for the first time) in January this year and has battled, like others before him, to find agreement on its provisions amongst interested parties in Californian poker, comprising mainly tribal groups with differing requirements, cardrooms and online poker companies
Earlier this month Assemblyman Mike Gatto withdrew his AB9 bill due to an inability to establish a consensus, leaving just AB167 and AB431 (an incomplete placeholder bill by Assemblyman Adam Gray) in play. AB431 moved through two committee hearings but now appears to have stalled.
However, online poker legalization in California is (again) running perilously out of time. The Assembly returns from summer recess on August 17th and that does not leave much time until September 4, when all bills must be finalised, and September 11, when they must be passed or fail until next year.
And there's the Labour Day public holiday in there on September 7 as well.
For either of the remaining legalization bills to achieve consensus, make it through the committee system and then be voted in by the Assembly and the Senate in California appears to be an almost impossible ask.
The difference this year is the concentrated effort that Pokerstars and its Californians for Responsible iPoker campaign has invested in legalization. Whether it can make a difference has yet to be seen.