The latest attempt at bringing regulated online poker to California involves a $60 million incentive for the Golden State horse racing industry.

That $60 million offer is part of a group of amendments California Assemblyman Adam Gray added to his version of an online poker bill that’s been kicking around the state house for quite some time.

In this latest iteration of AB 431 California horse racing interests would bow out of the online gambling industry entirely, leaving the business in the hands of established card rooms and tribal gaming interests. In return for bowing out of the race, horse tracks would receive a whopping $60 million in payments every year from whomever winds up hosting California online poker.

If you’re thinking that $60 million a year is a lot for asking horse track operators to stay out of the online poker business, you’re certainly not alone.

In an interview with, Steve Stallings, chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, who is also a representative of the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians expressed skepticism about the new plan saying:

I think those numbers, honestly have to be rolled back. The fundamental problem now is the total economics of the bill don’t work.

Given the tepid start for online poker in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, Stallings is probably on to something. But $60 million is most likely just a starting point for a negotiation that could drag on for a very long time. As it stands, lawmakers have until the end of the month to decide whether or not to move forward with the new plan.

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