Sorry, Californians, no (legal) online poker for you

TAGs: ab 2863, California

It was a long, hard-fought battle. But sometimes it’s necessary to know when to say enough is enough.

Sorry, Californians, no (legal) online poker for youAfter almost a decade of attempts to bring legalized online gambling to California, it looks like the struggle is over, and state legislators won’t be reviving the subject again anytime soon, according to Online Poker Report‘s Matthew Kredell.

California’s most successful attempt was seen in 2016 when Assemblyman Adam Gray was pulled together enough support to at least light a small fire. He managed to earn the backing of the California horse racing industry in April of that year in support of his poker bill, AB 2863. Multiple concessions had been given to the collective in order to receive their approval, but the bill later smoldered into oblivion instead of blazing a path toward poker acceptance.

Gray’s bill was most recently fought by California tribal interests who have worked feverishly to suppress any attempts to expand gambling in the state. Even if online poker in the state were to be approved, it could still be considered illegal on the federal level, and tribes were more than willing to take that fight to the courts. Gray’s hand was forced, and he reluctantly waved the white flag.

State legislators already have their hands full, currently going up against tribes that have grown impatient with what they perceive as the state’s lack of regulation on cardrooms that the tribes feel are operating illegally. The two sides have been involved in a dispute for the past six years, and lawmakers are concerned that a lawsuit could be pending. Bo Mazzetti, chairman of the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, is actively trying to rally other tribes in his push for a suit.

The recent announcement by the Poker Players Alliance that it no longer had the financial stability to lobby for poker causes doesn’t help the situation. Poker enthusiasts lost a major backer that had worked tirelessly at both state and federal levels to push for online gambling. Now, California players will have to either look to playing illegally—which, it doesn’t hurt to mention, takes revenue out of California—or find another hobby, like underwater basket weaving.


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