Let’s Try a New Approach to Online Poker in California in 2016

RethinkWhile online poker hasn’t officially been declared dead in California for 2015, life support has been cut off and the undertaker is measuring the body for the coffin.

Normally we would start looking forward to what needs to happen in 2016 to pass online poker in California. However, maybe it is time for lawmakers and stakeholders to take a different approach.

Now is the time to start working towards passing a bill in 2016. Otherwise, we will find ourselves in this same position next July.

Start Working on a Racetrack Compromise NOW

It is well known that any online poker bill submitted to the Governor will be vetoed if the horse racing industry is not included. By default, that makes the issue the highest priority to resolve.

As such, it would seem that now is the time to work towards resolving that issue rather than waiting until 2016 and then hoping that something can be worked out.

Race tracks want nothing short of being allowed to operate online poker in California. Presently, they are claiming to be against any type of alternative solution.

If I were one of the major supporters of online poker in the state, I would consider possibly commissioning some type of study or hiring a consultant to break down the costs versus the benefits for the racing industry operating their own online poker sites.

Then, I would offer the same analysis for other potential compromises. Once you break it down to pure profit margins, the racing industry may discover that full participation doesn’t make financial sense.

If racetracks can be shown a solution that provides greater benefit than operating their own sites, this could bring an end to this issue and allow negotiations to move forward.

There Can Be Only One

To steal a popular phrase from the Highlander franchise, there can be only one when it comes to an online poker bill in California.

This year we saw three different proposals filed in the Assembly and the only one that moved forward was AB 431, a shell bill that will likely remain so for the remainder of the year.

Assembly members Gatto, Jones-Sawyer and Gray should consider coming together and work towards a single unified bill to present to the Assembly in 2016.

Enough of this nonsense of having three bills with three different themes. We know what the issues are that are holding up legislation, so work towards creating a bill that addresses those matters and move forward.

Also, let’s stay away from shell bills the time around. If you don’t have the language of your bill already worked out, don’t bother wasting our time with empty bills that will sit in an eternal holding pattern.

Avengers Assemble for PokerStars

PokerStars is already running their Let California Play! pro tour and encouraging citizens to contact their lawmakers to support online poker. Caesars and Rincon are now on board with having PokerStars operate in California.

If the racetrack issue can be amicably solved, then lawmakers and other supporters of PokerStars need to rally together and work towards a compromise regarding bad actors.

The Pechanga have claimed that they would never change their stance on bad actors but if that becomes the only issue that is holding up a bill going to a vote, external pressures could force them into considering some type of compromise.

Would Amaya and PokerStars accept anything less than full participation from day one? How about the rumored customer list that supposedly gives them an advantage? Would they give that list up to potential competitors to help level the playing field?

How about a revenue sharing agreement? The Pechanga offered that compromise to the horse racing industry. Could PokerStars agree to a similar type deal to share revenue with smaller sites? Revenue sharing could be a small price to pay to finally get the ball rolling on legislation.

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