To say that online poker supporters in California are pissed is an understatement. In a matter of six months, lawmakers have managed to push Daily Fantasy Sports regulation to the point of potentially becoming law. Over the last four years, iPoker has barely managed to get out of committee.
There’s been a lot of movement in California in the past week on AB 1437, aka the Fantasy Sports Games Consumer Protection Act. The bill has not only emerged from committee but the Assembly nearly unanimously voted in favor of the measure.
From Committee to Assembly Passage in a Week
Last Thursday, the Assembly Committee on Appropriations voted 15-0 in favor of AB 1437. This sent the measure to the Assembly floor for a potential vote. Last year, AB 431 was able to emerge from committee but it was merely a shell bill. It was later put into a holding pattern prior to even coming to an Assembly reading, much less a vote.
That wasn’t the case for AB 1437. On Wednesday, the Assembly passed AB 1437 by a vote of 62-1. The only person to vote against the measure was Assemblyman Marc Levine. Now the bill moves on to the Senate where it will have to start all over again.
Online Poker Supporters Are Not Happy
Not surprisingly, online poker supporters around the country are upset over the recent developments over DFS. The Poker Player’s Alliance was one of the first to issue a press release over the matter. They called for legislators to take action to legalize online poker, stating, “If legislating consumer protections for DFS players is a priority for the legislature, the same should be true for Internet poker players.”
One can understand the frustration of online poker supporters. The matter has been considered for years and last year was the first time it emerged from committee. Truthfully, AB 431 should not have moved until it was completed. Thus far, online poker has largely been ignored in lieu of DFS legislation and supporters want their share.
PokerStars in a Win-Win Situation
PokerStars is actually in a win-win situation with DFS regulation passing. If the bill does become law, there are realistically no roadblocks to stop it from operating in California. PokerStars did not offer any type of DFS product post-UIGEA and the recent product was withdrawn from most states once the regulatory crisis emerged.
DFS regulation could result in PokerStars (in the form of DraftStars) being allowed to operate in the state. Realistically, the income they could pull in from DFS could dwarf what they could make with online poker.
Time to Start All Over Again
Now it is time for AB 1437 to make its way through the Senate. The same process is about to begin with a pair of potential committee votes on the horizon. Chances are that the bill will receive multiple changes over the coming weeks, so online poker does have time to “catch up.”
The question now remains whether various stakeholders will allow iPoker legislation to catch up to DFS. Issues over racetracks and bad actors have not been resolved, at least not yet. Will tribes and other stakeholders show a sense of urgency or will they continue to bicker and let DFS steal all the glory. The next few weeks will be very interesting for California.