Earlier today, Chris Grove of Online Poker Report tweeted that the California Assembly GO committee will hold a meeting online gambling on January 6, 2016. This meeting will encompass online poker, sports betting and Daily Fantasy Sports.
While some will see this as an “important step forward” for online gambling in the state, in reality this may be one of those “much ado about nothing moments” in the long saga of iGaming regulation in the state.
Getting an Early Start at Least
The most positive point we can take from this upcoming hearing is that lawmakers are getting an early jump on iGaming in 2016 instead of waiting until the Spring or even Summer to begin serious debates on iGaming.
January is usually the month we’re sitting here talking about the latest and greatest iPoker bill for the state with speculation on whether there will be hearings, etc. This time around, they’re hitting the ground running.
What We Can Expect Out of This Hearing
If we were to venture an early guess, we believe that this hearing will focus heavily on DFS and sports betting with less emphasis placed on online poker. Lawmakers already know their stance and the issues surrounding iPoker and there haven’t been any new developments in the past few months.
Of course, there is always the chance that lawmakers or tribal representatives could spring some new information on us at this hearing. If there is any progress made on iPoker in this hearing, we believe it will be focused on resolving issues surrounding racetrack participation and bad actors rather than actual movement towards a vote on legislation.
DFS is what has states buzzing right now and you can expect the panel to be heavy on witnesses for or against the activity. We should start to get a better idea of where certain lawmakers stand, including Assemblyman Gray. While it is true that Gray introduced AB 1437 back in September, he has essentially backed off on fast tracking the bill.
Will The State Constitution Need to Be Changed to Allow DFS?
A question raised during the DFS hearing held earlier this month was whether a ballot measure would be needed to legalize Daily Fantasy Sport in California. If DFS contests are declared illegal, then California citizens may need to vote on a Constitutional change to allow the games.
DraftKings and FanDuel representatives have held off on whether they would support taking such a step but there is another group that could start calling for such a measure – California Tribes.
Remember how that the Tribes have tried to block racetrack participation by claiming that citizens have voted against gambling expansion for racetracks? What’s to stop them from making the same claim in terms of DFS or Sports Betting?
If the matter was taken to the people, we believe that they would support DFS and sports betting. Both have massive underground markets and those that are legal bring in Billions annually.
We’ll Know the Pulse But Not Much Else After Hearing
In the end, we believe that about the only thing we will find out at this hearing is the pulse of lawmakers in terms of Daily Fantasy Sports and maybe whether there’s been any movement among stakeholders regarding iPoker. Otherwise, this hearing truly be informational in nature.
Granted, if we discover that lawmakers are largely favorable in moving forward with DFS, this could speed up the legislative process in the state. However, it is our believe that they will adopt a more cautious approach and focus more on whether a Constitutional amendment is needed rather than trying to move forward with a vote.