Will 2017 be the year that California finally legalizes it? And we're not talking about marijuana either. During the last major election in November 2016, the citizens of California voted to legalized recreational marijuana. But online poker is still outlawed despite numerous attempts by state lawmakers to legalized internet gambling.
California is large enough of a state that it could be its own country. An online poker market for the largest state in the union could sustain itself over both the short and long term. The last ten years has seen previous online poker bills fall short of the mark in the California state Assembly.
But there's some hope. Last year's efforts by Assemblyman Adam Gray with AB-2863 were promising. Sure, they fell short of the mark...but for the first time in a very long time, there appeared to be light at the end of the tunnel. Online poker will eventually come to California, but it all boils down to...to what degree will PokerStars be involved. As soon that prickly situation is every figured out, then the biggest obstacle to legalized online poker will be neutralized.
Will this be the year the "bad actor clause" be sorted out? According to a report in the Online Poker Report, Assembly Member Reggie Jones-Sawyer of Los Angeles introduced a new bill AB-1677 titled the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act. The verbiage is similar to Gray's bill from last year along with the horse racing industry getting a $60 million stipend to only allow card rooms and Indian tribes to operate licensed online poker sites. There's current two major factions among the tribes. One stands as an ally with PokerStars and the other is vehemently opposed to any involved by PokerStars. Hence, the bad actor clause was what essentially stopped last year's bill from gaining more traction.
The bad actor clause will continue to be the hot-button issue in 2017. And PokerStars will be the thorny topic that divides the biggest factions. Can they find middle ground or agree upon a number that can keep all parties happy?
Will AB-1677 finally pass by the end of 2017? My heart hopes so, but the past history is hard to ignore. It's been a tough road toward legalization and although it seems as though we get a little closer every year... we might still be waiting a couple of years.