California Online Poker Bill Overlooked in Favor of DFS

January 7th, 2016 | by Brian Corlisse
California online poker bill not heard.

Online poker bill pulled from GO Committee hearing, but DFS bill gets a positive vote. (Image: Reginald Jones-Sawyer Official Website)

California online poker remains a distant dream for millions, after a scheduled hearing was unexpectedly canceled earlier this week.

After months of hoping and lobbying, AB 167 (an online poker bill sponsored by Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer) was due to be heard at an Assembly Governmental Organization Committee hearing this week in the Golden State.

A Case of History Repeating

However, despite the bill and its representatives being ready to push for a yes vote on Wednesday, AB 167 was removed from the schedule at the last minute.

Although the removal was unexpected, it wasn’t something that out of the ordinary, as the same thing happened in 2015.

Due to appear alongside Mike Gatto’s online poker bill, AB 9, in July, Jones-Sawyer’s bill (AB 167) was pulled from the hearing without explanation last summer. This time around, it’s believed that the pressing nature of other online gambling bills made it necessary for AB 167 to be removed.

Although Steve Stallings, chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA), argued that the online poker bill was better formed than other bills on the agenda, his argument was ignored.

“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 Stallings.

Unfortunately, members of the GO Committee didn’t agree and that means online poker in California will remain in limbo for the next few months.

DFS Given a Pass

While the latest US iGaming news will disappoint poker players in the Golden State, fans of online betting were given something to smile about after Assemblyman Adam Gray’s daily fantasy sports (DFS) bill was passed by a margin of 18:2.

This seal of approval for Grays’ Internet Fantasy Sports Games Consumer Protection Act AB 1437 means that regulated DFS is now a step closer in California. In fact, although there is still opposition from various groups, California’s attitude towards DFS appears to be much more favorable than the one held by New York.

As it now stands, New York’s Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is in the process of bringing criminal charges against the two largest DFS operators, FanDuel and DraftKings. Although the case is in its preliminary stages, Schneiderman recently filed an amended claim demanding that the two sites return of all money lost by those who played DFS in New York throughout 2015.

How the situation in New York will play out remains to be seen. One thing that is clear is that California is moving closer to DFS regulation, but not online poker regulation.


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