California Online Poker Not Urgent, Says State Senate Leader Kevin de León

3 min read

California online poker might be on the horizon somewhere, but the state’s senate leader isn’t in any rush to push through regulation.

California online poker Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles)
California online poker is on hold as the state’s Senate President Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) won’t be rushed on the issue of legalization. (Image: Mark J. Terrill/AP)

According to a recent report by the Los Angeles Times, California Senate President Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) appears to be apathetic towards the issue of regulated online poker, saying he’s “not in a rush for anything.”

Part of a broader discussion on the regulation of so-called “vices” such as the legalization of recreational marijuana, de León said that time is not of the essence in moving forward recently. Expanding on that point, de León’s Chief of Staff Dan Reeves confirmed that the latest bill missed a vital deadline, but could still be revived this year.

Rollercoaster Ride

As it stands, Assemblyman Adam Gray’s (D-Merced) online poker bill, AB 2863, has seen more ups and downs than Gus Hansen’s bankroll.

Despite high hopes heading into a planned Assembly Appropriations Committee vote back in June, the issue never moved forward after a last-minute schedule change.

Owing to an ongoing dispute with a tribal coalition that wants to block “bad actors” from applying for an iGaming license, the bill was removed from the hearing. The bad actor issues target sites like PokerStars, which remained operational in the US post-UIGEA.

Although AB 2863 still has a lot of positive momentum behind it, the bad actor issue is one that isn’t going away easily and with de León not in a rush to make things happen it could be a while before anything happens.

California Crucial for US Online Poker

The road to regulation is seldom smooth, of course, and this is just another obstacle for those who want to see online gaming made freely available within the state of California.

Although other states are currently considering the virtues of online poker, California has often been described as a lynchpin state. Given its size and status, the Golden State will surpass New Jersey as the largest regulated poker market in the US, if and when legalization happens.

At that juncture, more states would be likely to see the potential of online poker and not only be more inclined to pass legislation, but forge liquidity sharing pacts that would benefit the US as a whole. But before those plans can start falling into place, online poker advocates, Senate leader de León, and the tribal coalitions will have to agree on the best way forward for all concerned.

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