Online Poker in California Folds for Another Year

February 16th, 2018 | by Jason Reynolds

Online poker in California is unlikely to become a reality in the near future after Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) admitted he won’t be reintroducing his bill in 2018.

Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer.

Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer won’t be pushing to have online poker regulated in California this year. (Image:

The fight for legal online poker in California is one of the longest running in the US, but Jones-Sawyer told Online Poker Report that 12 months of no progress has forced him to hold fire this year.

The Assemblyman’s comments came just a few days before the state deadline for filing bills (February 16) was due to hit.

Bad Blood Holds Up Regulation

The decision to pass on a bill that he’s been pushing since 2014 is largely due to a lack of compromise from certain tribal factions.

With animosity between the state, tribes looking to protect their current gaming interests and operators such as PokerStars, the Golden State has struggled in recent years.

In 2017, Jones-Sawyer’s A 1677 did look as though it was going to make it through the political process after Assembly Governmental Organization Committee chair Adam Gray gave it his backing.

However, when push came to shove, not even Gray could get it across the line, which closed the book on and possible legislation for another year.

News of the decision to not pursue regulation for the first time since 2007 will come as a disappointment to those that believed progress was being made.

To those people, hope may be on the horizon if New Jersey Governor Chris Christie can win his Supreme Court bid to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

New Jersey Governor Could Help California

Following a long-running battle with various sports leagues, including the NCAA, Christie has been granted a final appeal by the Supreme Court. In his mind, New Jersey’s approved sports betting bill is being unfairly blocked by a federal law.

Although multiple rulings have gone against Christie in recent years, his current position that PASPA is forcing a federal law on a state is one that seems to have won him some support.

A decision on Christie vs. PASPA isn’t expected until the spring, but a positive result for sports betting fans could have wide-reaching implications.

As well as providing states outside of Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon, which are exempt from PASPA, with a chance to offer sports betting, it could open up other areas of the industry. Indeed, during his discussion with Online Poker Report, Jones-Sawyer suggested that “sports wagering raises all tides,” which could mean poker is integrated into any future bills.

For now, despite any potential rays of light at the end of the tunnel, online poker players in California look to be out of luck for 2018. 

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