California Lawmakers Take Another Stab at Online Poker

California lawmakers are taking another stab at legalizing online poker with the introduction of The Internet Consumer Protection Act (AB 1677).
The proposed legislation would establish a licensing scheme for the state; address the thorny issue of compensation for race tracks for not being allowed to participate in online gambling; and lays out the basics of Golden State online gambling. That’s a massive slate for one bill…and it doesn’t even cover the thorny issue of bad actors.
Introduced by Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, AB 1677 establishes a licensing structure that includes a whopping $12.5 million, one-time, application fee. Successful applicants would receive a tax credit to compensate for the high price of admission. Unsuccessful applicants would be left holding the bag.
Jones-Sawyer addresses the conflict between racetracks and card rooms/casinos by offering up an annual payment of 95 percent of the first $60 million in taxes collected by the state each year. Though this seems wildly optimistic, it seems to satisfy California race track owners.
Most of what Jones-Sawyer is proposing is pretty basic stuff, with one major exception. When it comes to bad actors Jones-Sawyer punts the ball to regulators to figure out in the future. While that might sound like a good idea in his office, it’s likely to meet with stiff resistance from California’s powerful tribal gaming interests.
California Indian tribes have used their influence to block multiple efforts to legalize online gambling because of bad actors.
These big money operations have no interest in sharing the gambling pie with small tribes that have teamed up with international operators to create a large footprint in the market. More than any other issue, this one could sens AB 1677 to the graveyard of failed California online gambling bills.