CA Online Poker Bill AB 431 Progresses, But Consensus Remains Elusive

California capital buildingLast week, online poker bill AB 431 passed through a required legislative checkpoint as it was released by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Following that milestone, two factions in the iPoker debate released statements applauding the progress, but pointing out the need for more consensus before the bill can be successful.

PokerStars and its allied tribes and card rooms sent out a press release stating its optimism over the development, but using language backing up its bid to participate in the market.

PokerStars pushes for an open marketplace

“Success is achievable this year when parties come together to collaborate in the best interests of Californians,” it said. “Toward that end, we’ve seen a growing coalition coming together in the interest of passing a bill that creates an open, competitive marketplace that protects consumers, provides a financial return for the state, and establishes a strong regulatory system.”

The online gaming giant also reiterated its belief that legalizing the game would create a safer marketplace for California’s poker players. “Authorizing online poker will be good for millions of consumers and poker players who will benefit from a safe, regulated environment where they are protected,” it continued. “Our coalition is committed to resolving the remaining issues.”

Rincon’s take

The Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians opposes PokerStars’ push to be included in the Golden State’s iPoker industry. For their part, the tribe took a more vague tone, urging the industry’s stakeholders to come together and settle their differences.

“Internet poker has been a hotly debated issue for more than a half decade,” it said in a release. “In the past, progress to reach a compromise stalled once legislation failed to move forward.”

What’s next

The next step for online poker legislation will be two hearings set to play out in front of the Governmental Organization Committee. On June 24, a hearing titled “The Legality of Internet Poker – How Prepared Is California to Regulate It?” will discuss the finer details of the online poker industry.

The next hearing will take place on July 8 and will discuss Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s AB 9 and Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer’s AB 167. Until then, online poker language could evolve and will be ultimately determined by a potential consensus reached by the state’s gambling interests.

The Viejas Band attacks PokerStars in radio ad

In an attempt to portray PokerStars in a bad light, the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians have released a radio ad critical of the site and its parent company, Amaya Gaming. In the ad, the Viejas Band highlights the action taken by the Department of Justice against Stars in 2011 and touches on the ongoing insider-trading investigation being conducted on officials tied to the company.

The fact that the Viejas Band is still so vehemently opposed to PokerStars’ entry into the state, however, does not bode well for California’s online poker chances this year.