Assembly Bill 2863, seen as the most likely online poker bill to pass in California, has seen two bad actor amendements added in the past week.
Two amendments to Assembly Bill 2863 in California has seen the bad actor clause come back with a vengence in a move that is obviously anti-PokerStars.
When PokerStars entered the New Jersey market in early 2016, they showed just how huge their presence can be in even a small market. They immediately scooped up about one-half of the market, forcing the competition to scramble by sharing players and doing everything they could to fight over the scraps they were left. This is obviously weighing heavily on the mind of those who would run online poker rooms under a regulated California environment for the game, and it’s clear that they are maneuvering to fight against that threat even now.
The Bad Actor Clause
The point of a bad actor clause is to try to keep out companies that offered online poker prior to regulations for the industry being implemented. In the case of California, the tribes in particular (along with other groups) know that they will have a much smaller piece of the pie to work with if PokerStars is allowed into the market like they were in New Jersey. Along these lines, they have been pushing for a bad actor clause in any bill that regulates online poker, with the current attempt known as Assembly Bill 2863 being no exception.
This has led to two new amendments being added in the past week. One of them reads:
The act that added this subparagraph shall not become operative until criteria are established by statute to address involvement in Internet betting prior to the state’s authorization of Internet poker pursuant to this chapter.
Another reads the following:
The bill would become operative when criteria are established by statute addressing involvement in Internet betting prior to the state’s authorization of Internet poker pursuant to its provisions.
The point here is that they have evaded a straightforward bad actor clause in the traditional sense while still putting in verbage that requires consideration of previous online betting ran in the state before issuing a license. This is all a part of the maneuvering that goes into this type of thing, and while you can’t blame them to some degree, it’s holding back the advancement of online poker for the players. This type of maneuvering has held back previous legislation from being passed in the state on several occasions, and it’s really getting old at this point.
Why Does Anyone Care?
Some people don’t understand why lawmakers would care, but it comes down to the fact that the tribes have to agree to let this kind of legislation go through because of other related laws. Along these lines, they have been using this as leverage to try to keep as much of a bad actor clause in the bill as possible, and they wrote a letter promising that if these amendments above were made, that they would engage in negotiations in good faith to push the bill along.
The hearing is happening this week, so it’s clear that adding these clauses to the bill has worked to some degree, but the bottom line is that they’re effectively holding all of the cards. If they decide that they don’t want this bill to go through, it’s simply not going to happen, so it’s obviously a tricky situation for everyone involved. The bottom line is that US poker players need online poker to become regulated in California because of the size of the market involved and the chances of interstate poker pacts with other states that regulate the game that would boost their offering tremendously.