On Wednesday, California lawmakers in Sacramento pulled an Internet poker (I-poker) bill from the schedule to focus on measures concerned with regulating fantasy sports and sports betting.
AB 167 was introduced in February of last year by Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer. California tribes remain divided in their opinions on legalizing poker, and state lawmakers have urged tribes to make compromises to solidify their stance. While tribes continue to have dissenting opinions, California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA), the largest association of Indian gaming interests in California, has reached common ground and continues to push for the Assembly's Governmental Organization Committee to review the bill and ultimately legalize online poker.
CNIGA is calling on legistlators to prioritize AB 167.
"We realize there are two other bills dealing with sports betting (AB 1441) and daily fantasy sports (DFS) (AB 1437) sharing the agenda with the I-Poker bill, AB 167. ...AB 167 represents one of the last in a series of I-Poker bills, which, unlike AB 1441 and AB 1437, were thoroughly vetted, debated, altered, massaged, and continually passed over with the hope of a political miracle of consensus in the next year," said Steve Stallings, CNIGA chairman, in a press release.
"The regulation of fantasy sports is well intended. However, the state needs to prove it can deal with one online game—I-Poker—before it takes on others."
Among the stipulations outlined in AB 167 is a plan for four-year renewable licenses costing $10 million each. The State of California would collect about 8.5 percent of gross gaming revenue from operators.
In his press release, Stallings references Poker News Daily: California is "… by far the largest state in the nation with approximately 39 million citizens, the California online poker industry would be the most lucrative in the United States."
Pushing off review and regulation of I-poker only encourages off-shore gaming and prevents tax payer money from benefitting the state, CNIGA argues.
"The computer age is here and so is internet gambling, along with its opportunities and dangers. To continue to do nothing exposes the state's citizens to the type of criminal and backroom activities reminiscent of the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920-'30s. We all know how well that worked," Stallings said.