The fate of online poker in California may be decided in the next few days.
Jesse Marx of The Desert Sun reported Monday evening that "a bill that would legalize online poker in California was pulled off the Assembly floor Monday, buying more time for negotiations."
The bill from Assemblyman Adam Gray has gained support from a number of key factions, including the powerful California horse racing industry, but there continues to be a sticking point over operator suitability concerns.
Specifically, an influential tribal faction has staunchly opposed any legislation that would seemingly open the door for PokerStars to return to California. Gray's bill calls for PokerStars and other operators who acted in violation of U.S. law to pay a $20 million fee or wait five years before entering the market, but the opposing coalition calls for a penalty of both $60 million and a 10-year waiting period.
At USPoker.com, Dustin Gouker outlined the numerous hurdles that must still be cleared before even an agreed-upon bill can come into law. It must still get through an Assembly vote with two-thirds majority and then pass the Senate, with the legislature set to adjourn at the end of August.
"Still, the fact that the bill is being negotiated, even at this late hour, at least signals it is not dead," Gouker wrote. "And if it doesn’t pass in August, it could mean the heavy lifting has been done for 2017."
Gray's chief of staff said the hope is to reintroduce the bill Thursday.
2:51 p.m. update: Sources tell us negotiations are still ongoing, and a vote is unlikely to occur this week.
Stay tuned for more as this story develops.
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