The US state of California may find itself the centre of attention in 2015 when the on-going national debate over online gambling looks set to move into its next phase.
The California Legislature is likely to receive two new online poker bills to consider, with competing sides lining up to promote their causes and further their own self-interests and the products that they are pushing.
California is seen by some as they great white hope for online casino gaming in the US, due to its population size of 43 million, which is considered large enough for the industry to survive and grow.
Throughout 2014 Las Vegas land based casino identity Sheldon Adelson has been trying to kill off the burgeoning US online casino industry, thought to be largely in an effort to protect his own not-insignificant interests.
A bill that he has been championing which would largely attain this goal has been floated throughout the second half of the year, and appeared to be gaining some traction, before questions of cronyism were raised. The bill may still some way find its way through the Washington political mechanism to success, but that does seem unlikely the way matters have unfolded in the last few weeks.
One thing is for sure, the operators of the big Nevada casinos, including Caesars and MGM, will be watching how events in California unfold with a greater interest than most.
A New Proposal
One of the new bills will be sponsored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, who sits in the favourable position of Chairman of the Lower House Appropriations Committee, where any new online gambling measures will need to be introduced.
Assemblyman Gatto believes his new bill will produce a uniting effect throughout the gaming committee, and it would seem that there might be some truth to that, with some of the operators of the state’s largest casinos, including the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, all expressing their support of Assemblyman Gatto’s proposal.
Not Everyone Is In Agreement
Opposition to Assemblyman Gatto’s bill is likely to come from a coalition which includes the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, and three of the largest card rooms in the state.
This coalition has a bill of its own that it would like to see legislated, and naturally their bill has their own particular interests at heart.
Additionally, extra intrigue has been added to the whole affair because this coalition has made a working agreement with famed poker brand PokerStars, which is owned by the Amaya Gaming Group based out of Canada, and which has previously run into problems with US law.
A Twist In The Tale
The news of the involvement of PokerStars adds a very interesting sub-plot to the whole affair.
Assemblyman Gatto’s bill features a clause which either directly or indirectly takes aim at PokerStars, and the role that it, its previous owners, and others played in the taking of bets after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006 was introduced and passed.
Assemblyman Gatto does appear to be leaving the door slightly open though, with language indicating that they may be welcome back at the table if their behaviour is shown to of been improved.
The appearance of a “welcome back” clause of sorts is a first in this debate, and observers have noted this particular part of the bill with interest.
Let The Games Begin!
With the two sides now lining up against each other 2015 should prove to be a very interesting year for online gambling in the state of California, and indeed for the whole of the United States, if not the world.
With 7 billion dollars of gaming revenue produced each year in California alone, there is a lot at stake for all parties involved, and this particular battle could be of significant importance.