In the last couple of days, the chances of online poker passing in California in 2015 have dropped to almost zero. On Wednesday, a joint hearing between Senate and Assembly GO committees was a complete dud.
On Thursday, Capitol Weekly held their California Gaming 2015 conference and the mood was one of pessimism. At the end of the conference, most seemed in agreement that online poker legislation was not happening this year and we will be back next year debating the issue.
Sadly, this is an outcome that has been on the horizon for months but most have been holding out on false hope for a compromise. Ultimately, there are two reasons why California iPoker legislation is continuing to fail.
Lack of Consensus
It’s no secret that California lacks a general consensus when it comes to online poker. You have two main issues that have been holding up legislation for years and there appears no chance of this changing anytime soon.
Some tribes, led by the Pechanga, do not want online poker in the state if it allows horse racing tracks into the state. They believe that this constitutes an expansion of gambling. The other issue surrounds allowing companies such as PokerStars to participate in the market.
PokerStars was initially viewed as a “bad actor” due to their participation in the United States market after the passage of the UIGEA. Now they are viewed as a “tainted asset” because they are now owned by Amaya, Inc. Some argue that since PokerStars operated in the United States post UIGEA, they have an unfair advantage over others because they know where the players are.
The horse racing industry has made it known that they will not accept anything less than the right to participate in the industry. Furthermore, the Morongo tribe along with three of the state’s largest card rooms has teamed up with PokerStars. They will not accept anything less than allowing PokerStars to become fully licensed.
Sadly, it seems that lawmakers do not want to move forward without some type of consensus between tribes because it is believed that parties on both sides have the clout needed to stall a bill.
Lack of Player Support
Contrary to what some online poker analysts would like us to believe, online poker players are not stepping up to the plate in mass when it comes to supporting regulated online poker.
Take a look at the petition regarding RAWA. An issue that threatens to make online poker illegal would certainly gain 50 thousand signatures right? No? Ok, so it got 20,000 right? No?
The RAWA petition managed a mere 4,210 signatures. This was less than half than the original petition regarding online poker back in 2011. That petition couldn’t even crack 10,000.
Next, Assemblyman Mike Gatto has gone on record multiple times in recent months regarding the lack of player support for online poker in California. On Thursday, Gatto was quoted at California Gaming 2015 conference stating that, “very few constituents contact us about online poker.”
If players are not coming out in mass to support regulated online poker, what motivation do politicians have to support it. Yes, we have those on TwoPlusTwo and PPA members that participate in their daily emails, Tweets or comments to Congressmen, but their numbers are a mere drop in the bucket to what is needed to prompt politicians to act.