California Horse Racing in Bed with Online Poker

Horse 1The California horse racing industry has come out in official support of online poker bill AB 2863 in advance of next week’s hearing in the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee. has obtained a copy of the letter that nine industry leaders sent to Assemblyman Adam Gray, chair of the committee and co-lead sponsor of the bill. In the letter, the industry expressed support for the bill with a few reasonable caveats:

  • The $60 million annual payment to horse racing is not changed. Assemblyman Gray told PokerNews last month that the figure was not up for negotiation.
  • Tax rate and licensing fees (which were left blank in the bill after being 15 percent and $15 million in the initial draft proposal), remain reasonable. As long as there’s a little wiggle room on the originally proposed numbers, this shouldn’t be an issue. Racing’s concern is that its $60 million comes from the fees collected by the state, which won’t reach $60 million if the state isn’t collecting that much from online poker.
  • Any fair or association that ceases to offer live racing should no longer be eligible to participate in the fund. Just a little inner-industry jockeying.
  • Language is added to the bill clarifying that giving up the right to participate as an operator in online poker doesn’t preclude a horseracing association from participating in any future Internet gambling activities allowed by the state, nor affect its ability to continue offering online wagering on horses.

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