Poker fans hoping to see online poker legalised in the state of California will have to wait a little longer following news this week that Assemblyman Lloyd Levine's bill AB 2026, currently before the Senate Appropriations Committee before going to the vote, will now only be reintroduced in January 2009. No reason was given for the hold, which may be related to an over-full political schedule.
Levine's bill started out in February this year as a bid for a full enquiry into the potential for regulated and taxed online poker in the state. However, it was then amended to actually legalise online poker in California, only to be further amended to take it back to an independent investigation or survey (see previous InfoPowa reports)
In the past, Levine said of his bill: "This is an attempt to do what the federal government allows – provide people who want to play in California at least the opportunity to play internet poker in a way that they can be certain is safe and regulated."
Poker Voters of America President Jim Tabilio serves as the bill's citizen sponsor and called for the hold. In August he expressed pleasure with the favorable Committee vote on AB 2026, saying: "It's a good sign that the legislators are taking this issue seriously, understand the importance of the bill and are asking the right questions. The plan going forward is to bring together the potential stakeholders to help craft a final version of the bill that protects Californians who play online and maximizes revenue for the state."
California is home to an estimated two million online poker players, and has spearheaded moves toward legalising online poker for some time. In 2007, California poker player Anthony "Tuff Fish" Sandstrom started a petition to initiate a state-run online poker site for residents of the state. His petition was approved by the California Secretary of State, and scheduled for the February 2008 ballot, but was later withdrawn by him.