Thursday June 16,2016 : DISAPPOINTMENT AS CALIFORNIA ONLINE POKER BILL STALLS AGAIN
Assembly Appropriations Committee fails to advance AB2863 due to unpublished amendments.
Uncertainty created by unpublished proposed amendments temporarily stalled Assemblyman Adam Gray’s AB 2863 intrastate online poker legalization bill in the Assembly Appropriations Committee hearing Wednesday, dashing hopes of rapid progress to a floor vote for now at least.
On the bright side, it appears likely that the measure will be revisited within the next week or two after Assemblman Gray has had further discussions with interested parties.
There was nothing new in the positions taken by the parties for and against the bill, with the Pechanga – Agua Caliente et al coalition again insisting on a bad actor clause.
Committee chair Lorena Gonzalez suggested an amendment to resolve the argument, proposing that companies found to have been bad actors in the past be excluded from obtaining licensing in California until 2021, a proposal that will hardly suit Pokerstars but would certainly reduce competition for other interested parties.
However, money as usual could influence events; the Gonzalez proposal includes possible exceptions if a "bad actor" is prepared to cough up tens of millions of dollars in "owed taxes". The Pechanga coalition immediately signaled that they would oppose such a move, which doesnt auger well for the quick-fix.
Assemblywoman Gonzalez added further complications to AB2863 by recommending changes to the proposed tax and licence fee structure, which Gray has so painstakingly negotiated.
She wants half of the $12.5 million license fee credited against future tax, and ten percent of GGR allocated for the state before the ultra-sensitive annual racing subsidy is calculated. These amendments added to the uncertainty that eventually resulted in a vote being postponed.
The next gathering of the Assembly Appropriations Committee is due on June 22, with the possibility that this could be stretched out to June 29 as Gray attempts yet again to reconcile differing perspectives and goals among the varied interests.