The odds of regulating internet poker in California just got worse as Assemblyman Mike Gatto has essentially given up on his CA online poker bill, AB 9. Mike said in a statement that, due to having found “no consensus” on the issue, he’s removing his measure from the committee hearing scheduled for next week.
Assemblyman Gatto was the first of several politicians in the Golden State to introduce a CA online poker bill in the 2015-16 legislative session. AB 9 hit the table in December of 2014 as one of the first measures presented in the state.
Key Features of Gatto’s CA Online Poker Bill AB 9
AB 9 had several distinct parameters set in place to limit the state’s internet poker market to restricted operators. Only licensed tribal casinos and commercial card rooms would be permitted to participate (i.e. no horse racing tracks), and a ‘bad actors’ clause stated that any operator who accepted California players after December 31, 2006 (post-UIGEA) would be prohibited from obtaining a license.
While the horse racing industry and Amaya Gaming (owner of PokerStars & Full Tilt were opposed to AB 9, there were many tribal gaming operators and card rooms who supported Gatto’s CA online poker bill. The most significant among them was the Pechanga Coalition, a 7-tribe strong group of California tribes who are staunchly opposed to competing with PokerStars or the horse racing industry if and when internet poker is authorized.
Gatto says “No Consensus” means ‘No Go’ for AB 9
In a press release issued on his website yesterday, Mike Gatto explained why he’s giving up on his CA online poker bill.
“I am canceling next week’s hearing of my Assembly Bill 9. I believe this is the right thing to do at this point because there is no consensus on the issue yet,” wrote Assemblyman Gatto.
He did point out, however, that “My bill has an “urgency” clause, and thus it can be resuscitated at any time.”
He went on to speak of the hard work he’s put into internet poker legislation since 2012.
“Over the past three years, I have met with representatives from nearly every software provider, card room, gaming tribe, racetrack, and internet-poker operator who has an opinion on the subject. I gave my word to both supporters and opponents of AB 9 that my goal was consensus, and that I would not move forward with anything that achieved less than that,” Gatto said.
Although AB 9 is all-but dead at this point, the Assemblyman promised to continue his efforts towards establishing a framework for the authorization of online poker in California. “I will continue working to craft legislation on which the interested parties can agree, and which is good for the people and treasury of the state of California.”