Assembly seal

Jones-Sawyer Urges Patience on California Poker Bill

Hopes for legalizing online poker in California were once again dashed when State Sen. Lou Correa and Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer decided to drop their poker bills during the most recent legislative session.

Correa will not be back due to term limits, but Jones-Sawyer wasted no time in assuring the poker community that he was hard at work on a new bill which he would introduce at the beginning of the 2015-16 session.

In a press release` posted on OnlinePokerReport, the assemblyman gave more details as to why he decided to table the legislation. “One of the major reasons that I did not move AB 2291 this legislative session was that the Department of Justice and the California Gaming Commission did not have enough time to review the language and make relevant recommendations on the regulatory structure of the bill,” he said.

Jones-Sawyer has promised to work with all of the state’s gambling interests to resolve the sticking points which have so far impeded the progression of Internet gaming legislation. The two main issues which the assemblyman will need to iron out are whether the horse racing industry will be allowed to participate in online poker, and if any “bad actor language” will be included. Jones-Sawyer highlighted the necessity to write any such language “so that it is applied fairly, and avoid any possible future legal challenges.”

The inclusion of this type of verbiage is being lobbied for by various Indian tribes who hope to exclude PokerStars from operating in the state.

But the assemblyman is confident that he can bring a consensus among the players in the state’s gambling industry before the next legislative session. “Over the past seven months, we have seen tremendous growth regarding this issue,” he said. “The California Native American tribes who have gaming compacts and who presented the language for AB 2291 are more united than ever before. Card clubs in California, as well as the horse racing industry, has set down and expressed their interest in providing Internet poker access,” he added.

With online poker in the works for five years, the state’s poker players are betting on Jones-Sawyer to take the reins from previous iPoker advocates like Senators Rod Wright and Correa. “Each senator was extremely diligent in moving this issue forward over the past few years,” he said. “We have come a long way, but we have to be patient, so we can get this right. Setting a standard in California that will be an example for the entire nation is my ultimate goal.”