There is expected to be a vote on online poker bill AB 2863 at today's California Assembly Governmental Organization Committee (GO) hearing, according to Eric Johnson, chief consultant for the committee.
Assemblyman Adam Gray, who chairs the committee, had his online poker bill pass through GO last year, but under much different circumstances. That bill was just a shell bill, a placeholder that was passed on good faith before a deadline to move bills out of the committee in order to allow for continued discussion.
This is fully fledged legislation, with the controversial addition of an annual $60 million stipend for the horse racing industry in exchange for giving up its right to be operators. And since the bill has an urgency clause, there is no need for it to pass this month unless it is ready.
If this bill passes, it will be the first real advancement of online poker legislation in California.
The hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. PDT at the State Capitol, Room 4202, in Sacramento. It should be viewable here at that time.
Since this is a hearing on a particular bill as opposed to an informational hearing, there are no set speakers or agenda. Anyone there who signs up will be allowed to speak.
Poker Players Alliance executive director John Pappas has indicated that he will be speaking. Robyn Black, a lobbyist for the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, said that horse racing will be represented by thoroughbred owner Mike Pegram, breeder John Harris and Hall of Fame jockey Alex Solis. There will surely be many of representatives from California's Indian tribes and card clubs adding their two cents.
The two things to watch for at the hearing are how the Indian tribes will respond to the legislation's $60 million figure for horse racing, and if the desire for a bad-actor clause will be quelled by PokerStars' approval in New Jersey or ignited once again due to the allegations against parent company Amaya Gaming's CEO David Baazov made by Canadian securities regulators.
Assemblyman Gray told PokerNews last month that the $60 million number was not up for negotiation.
"We still believe we're entitled to being operators, but we were tired of being a stumbling block," Black said. "The bottom line is the people of California need internet poker regulations."
Again, the hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. PDT Wednesday. It should be viewable here at that time.
*Image courtesy of Ronald Schuster/FreeImages.com.