Two Powerful Legislators Introduce Parallel California Online Poker Bills

State Sen. Isadore Hall and Assemblyman Adam Gray have introduced identical bills which call for the legalization of online poker in California.

The bills, SB 278 and AB 431, number only three pages in length and are meant only as a “legislative vehicle” for a more refined bill at a later date, according to Chris Grove at OnlinePokerReport. The involvement of Sen. Hall and Assemblyman Gray is good news for online poker proponents, as the men chair the committees on Governmental Organization (GO) inside their respective chambers. The position effectively allows them to act as a gatekeeper for online gambling legislation.

According to Grove, the bills will most likely be edited to include the language which the state’s various gambling interests agree on, if they agree at all. At the moment, the legislation would allow for online poker to be offered inside of the Golden State and require that the California Gambling Control Commission, along with the California Department of Justice, enact regulations which would create the legal framework for the industry.

Lawmakers stress need for legal iPoker outlets

“We need to crack down on illegal online gaming and replace it with a safe and responsible entertainment option for adults, which includes safeguards against compulsive and underage gambling, money laundering, fraud, and identity theft,” Gray said in a statement. “This will not be a rushed process,” added Hall. “We look forward to moderating an open, honest, and thorough debate.”

The identical bills join two other pieces of online gambling legislation which are currently being assessed by the state legislature. In December of last year, Assemblyman Mike Gatto floated AB 9, a bill which contains a bad actor clause and prohibits the horseracing tracks from operating their own site. The second bill, AB 167, was introduced by Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer in late January and contains no bad actor language, while giving the racetracks a path to participation.

While the news will likely give California’s online poker proponents a shot in the arm, the disparate gaming providers will still need to agree on a compromise in regards to bad actors and horseracing tracks. Just last week, California tribal gaming watcher Dave Palermo penned a piece suggesting that, contrary to other reports, the tribes were as opposed to one another as ever.

Over the weekend, officials from several tribes met at the Western Indian Gaming Association conference. Palermo detailed a charged atmosphere as tribal leaders clashed over the Caesars coalition’s decision to drop their calls for PokerStars to be labeled a bad actor.