Online Poker in California Will Take a While Says Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer

April 26th, 2017 | by Brian Corlisse

Online poker in California looks like it will have to wait until at least 2018 to be regulated according to Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles).

Reginald Jones-Sawyer online poker bill.

California Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer has suggested that online poker regulation will be unlikely in the near future. (Image:

Talking to Online Poker Report in April, Jones-Sawyer explained that 2016 was a tough year and now is the time to restart the regulatory process with a clean slate.

During an interview with the poker website, the Democrat said that California has issues such as transportation to address this year, which means poker will have to will have to wait.

Although he didn’t rule anything out, he did suggest that iGaming regulation would stand a better chance of a fair hearing in 2018. Beyond this, he outlined how he is starting the process of gaining support for his online poker bill, AB 1677, from scratch.

Ongoing Disputes Delay Proceedings

In 2016, ongoing objections from various tribes meant that Adam Gray’s (D-Merced) online poker bill, AB 2863, fell by the wayside. The main issue causing a holdup was the potential presence of so-called bad actors i.e. those that were operational in the US after the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA).

The most prominent “bad actor” causing friction was PokerStars, but despite Gray reworking the bill in order to appease the tribes, an agreement still couldn’t be reached.

In light of last year’s efforts, Jones-Sawyer is taking a different approach with AB 1677. Although his bill doesn’t have a hardline on bad actors (it will leave this issue up to the regulator), Jones-Sawyer is hoping to win the trust of all factions in order to create some sort of unity.

Jones-Sawyer Looking to Repair Rifts

With this in mind, Jones-Sawyer said he isn’t having and hard discussions about the bill, but will be speaking to stakeholders and tribal representatives in a more casual way.

“The meetings have been more about me, as the author, saying, ‘Do you trust me to do the right thing?’ They’re to clear the air so we can set up a mechanism where we all can work together to get to the ultimate goal,” Jones-Sawyer told Online Poker Report in an article published on April 24.

While the future of online poker in California is still uncertain, it’s clear from Jones-Sawyer’s comments that the issue will take a while to resolve. With rifts still to repair and the voting process not yet underway, players within the Golden State could be waiting at least another 12 months before they can legally play online poker.


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