California Online Poker Could Benefit Horse Racing

California-PokerThere may yet be hope for ending the long stalemate between California tribes and racetracks on Internet poker. has received a copy of language Assemblyman Adam Gray has floated to industry stakeholders to fill out his shell bill AB 431 from last year. The new bill may be introduced in the next week, prior to the Feb. 19 deadline for bills to be introduced in 2016.

The major development in this proposed language compared to previous bills in the state is a $57 million annual stipend to the horse racing industry in exchange for acceptance not to be operators. The draft bill states that of the first $60 million collected each year, 95 percent will go into a California Horse Racing Internet Poker Account, which would contribute to purses, commissions, and incentive awards to be disbursed by racing associations or fairs, and pensions for jockeys and parimutuel employees.

The draft bill also allows racetracks to serve as service providers to licensed operators, noting that a horse racing service provider must receive at least 50 percent of the gross gaming revenue it generates for an operator.

Robyn Black, a lobbyist for the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, commended Gray, who chairs the Assembly Governmental Organization (GO) Committee, for trying to end the eight-year stalemate between the racetracks and tribes, but cautioned that the tribes and tracks have yet to agree to the proposed language.

“We applaud the chairman for recognizing the importance of racing in California,” Black said. “I think this is a great place to start a dialogue. I believe what he’s trying to do is get everyone back to the table to have a discussion.”

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