Judging by the agenda announced for Wednesday's Joint Informational Hearing in the California Senate and Assembly Governmental Organization committees, online poker doesn't appear to be anywhere close to a breakthrough in the Golden State.
Online discussion will only be part of the hearing that will feature just nine speakers mostly from the legal and regulatory side of gaming. It will be televised at calchannel.com beginning at 1:30 p.m. PDT.
Conspicuously absent are representatives of the individual gaming entities that are at a stalemate on parameters for who should be allowed to participate in California online poker.
Following opening remarks from chairmen Sen. Isadore Hall and Assemblyman Adam Gray, there will be testimony from Anita Lee, Senior Fiscal & Policy Analyst from the state's Legislative Analyst's Office. A second and final grouping will include four members of the California Department of Justice along with representatives of the California Gambling Control Commission, United Auburn Indian Community Tribal Gaming Commission, California Horse Racing Board and California State Lottery.
Last year, the iPoker hearing that occurred about this time in the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee featured 10 groupings and 33 witnesses covering every nook and cranny of the potential industry.
A more detailed discussion of where online poker stands will take place a day after the hearing, as Capitol Weekly and the University of California's UC Center will host a discussion on California Gaming featuring two dozen industry leaders, state officials and members of the press with a keynote from San Manuel chairwoman Lynn Valbuena. However, there won't be much presence from the tribal coalition led by the Pechanga, Agua Caliente and Viejas bands that are causing the stalemate by trying to keep horse tracks and PokerStars out of online poker in the state, with only Viejas attorney general Tuari Bigknife scheduled to speak.
Also on Thursday, PokerStars will be offering a demonstration of the consumer protection and fraud detection measures it has in place at the Legislative Office Building, Hearing Room 100, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Poker pros Daniel Negreanu and Jason Somerville will be a part of the demonstration.
There are two more hearings scheduled in California relating to online poker, another joint GO committee informational hearing on June 24 focused solely on iPoker and a July 8 hearing in the Assembly GO committee focusing on the specific bills offered by Assemblymen Reggie Jones-Sawyer and Mike Gatto.
Last month, Gray's slightly amended shell bill on online poker was passed by the Assembly GO Committee, but it was more a procedural move to keep the bill alive for the session.