California Gambling Hearing Dances around the Subject of Online Poker

California flag San FranciscoCalifornia lawmakers held a hearing yesterday to discuss the future of the gambling industry in the state, and while many hoped that the topic of online poker would be discussed and promote a productive dialogue, the industry was barely even mentioned.

The hearing was held by the California Senate and Assembly Governmental Organization Committees and was presided over by Assemblyman Adam Gray, who has sponsored his own online poker “shell bill.”

Several Golden State online gambling bills have been introduced over the years, but at no other time has the state been so close to passing one successfully. While many want to see PokerStars blocked with the use of “bad actor” language, some have signaled that they might be willing to make a compromise on the issue. The main sticking point now is whether horseracing operators should be allowed to become licensed to open their own card rooms.

A coalition of powerful tribes has deemed that to be unacceptable, and says that it would violate the compacts the tribes have with the government to be the sole operator of casinos in the state. The tracks, however, say that due to the evolving nature of the gambling industry, their revenues have dropped nearly 50%, and many operators have been forced to close up shop.

In response, the tribes have offered to use some of their online poker profits to give back to the tracks in the form of a subsidy. The tracks are clear that they will not accept such an offer and argue that they have been taking online wagers legally for years and are the only gambling operators who have experience providing online betting.

The attendees, including industry leaders and Golden State politicians, listened as California Horseracing Board Executive Director Rick Baedeker laid out his argument. “Given its long history in the state, deep roots in the California greenbelt and 13 years of legal online wagering, racing should receive every consideration to participate in Internet poker if it becomes a reality here in California,” said Baedeker.

Daniel Negreanu and Jason Somerville to Hold Online Poker Demo

Poker legend Daniel Negreanu and star Twitch streamer Jason Somerville have been recruited by PokerStars to give a demonstration on the ins and outs of the online poker world in an informational session on Thursday. The pair will meet lawmakers and industry heavyweights in the hopes of convincing them that poker can be safely regulated and prosper in the state.

Opponents of online gambling, like casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, have tried to undermine that quest and have spread misinformation and outright lies in the hopes of banning the industry countrywide.

“The goal is to educate politicians and lawmakers on a topic that they clearly don’t have a full, balanced grasp of,” Negreanu told PokerNews. “I’m talking about online poker, of course, and the plan is to show them how it works and educate them on the importance of regulation.”