California Online Poker Bill “On Hold”

online poker gamblingA California Internet poker bill will clear the Assembly Appropriations Committee Thursday but be held on the Assembly floor until after upcoming hearings on web poker are complete, according to sources.

The one-page shell bill, AB431, is sponsored by Democrat Adam Gray. It states in part that any future Internet poker measure adopted by the legislature must protect consumers and comply with applicable state and federal law.

The Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, which handles gaming issues, unanimously approved the bill last month. Its next stop is the Assembly Appropriations Committee, which has jurisdiction over fiscal matters.

Sources said the Appropriations Committee will approve the bill Thursday.

The measure will then advance to the Assembly floor, where it will be held until after two hearings on Internet poker, scheduled for June 24 and July 8, respectively, have concluded.

The decision to put AB431 in a holding pattern was taken Wednesday at a meeting between California web poker stakeholders and Democratic Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, sources said, noting that escalating tensions between rival lobbying factions necessitated Atkins’ involvement.

In the lead-up to Thursday’s Appropriations Committee action, stakeholders have been at odds over whether AB431 should advance in the absence of a consensus Internet poker policy framework. Key unresolved issues include “bad actor” prohibitions and the potential licensing of racetracks as web poker operators.

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