And then there were none. The day after California state Sen. Lou Correa withdrew his intrastate online poker bill from consideration, state Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer (pictured) has tossed his own online poker baby out with the bathwater. A Sawyer-Jones representative told PokerNews that the assemblyman agreed with Correa that there simply wasn’t enough time to pass a poker bill by the end of the month, when the state legislature’s current session concludes.
However, Jones-Sawyer has vowed to reintroduce his bill when the state’s legislators reconvene in December, leaving open the hope that the bill will pass in 2015 and the single biggest American intrastate poker market will come online sometime in 2016. That is, assuming all the stakeholders can resolve their differences in the interim. The chief roadblocks to consensus remain whether or not to permit evil thespians PokerStars to partner with the state’s Morongo Band of Mission Indians and whether to allow state racetracks to join tribes and cardrooms as the sole entities permitted to offer online poker to California residents.
Jones-Sawyer’s ‘never say die’ sentiments were echoed by the consortium of tribes that had rallied around an anti-PokerStars bill in June. The consortium, which includes the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the United Auburn Indian Community and other influential tribes, issued a joint statement on Wednesday agreeing with Correa that rushing a bill in the last weeks of the legislative session wouldn’t allow for “the level of careful public examination and confidence an issue of this magnitude requires.” Like Jones-Sawyer, the consortium looks forward to trying again in 2015.
California’s acquiescence means no US state will join the online gambling party in 2014, leaving the current three states – Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware – as the sole bastions of common sense in the Union. Pennsylvania had flirted with the idea of passing legislation this year but these efforts never amounted to anything more than trial balloons that failed to catch the necessary updraft.
The legislative delay will likely put even greater downward pressure on the share prices of UK-listed public companies like Bwin.party digital entertainment, which struck an online poker technology deal with the United Auburn tribe back in 2012, and had been counting on California to boost the lackluster performance of its PartyPoker product. Bwin.party shares closed Thursday’s trading at 83.55p, near its historick low. What will the morrow bring?
In the meantime, Pechanga.net and Spectrum Gaming Group have announced the second annual iGaming Legislative Symposium in Sacramento on Feb. 26, 2015. Pechanga.net editor Victor Rocha is promising participation from state legislators, gaming regulators, tribes and online gambling experts. Further info is available at www.igamingsymposium.com.