A long road for a California online poker study just got longer. While any type of legislation typically experiences setbacks and delays, Assembly Bill 2026 is being watched closely by the poker community as is signifies a step forward in the relationship between government and poker legislation in general.
AB 2026 is not groundbreaking legislation by any means. However, the Gambling Control/California Intrastate Online Poker Act will allow the California Department of Justice to perform a study related to the possibility of internet poker for California residents. Due to a stipulation in the Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), states are allowed to legalize and regulate intrastate online gaming if they so choose. The study that is proposed by this bill hopes to show how lucrative online gaming could be for the state of California, which is consistently troubled by budget woes and an unbalanced budget. Instead of cutting education programs and the like, online gaming could bring much-needed revenue to the state.
California Assemblyman Lloyd Levine of Van Nuys, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, first introduced AB 2026 to the state legislature in February of 2008. It was quickly and unanimously passed by the California Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, though it has since been delayed. While it was supposed to be up for a vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee this summer, it is now on hold until the January 2009 session.
The group responsible for assembling the bill, Poker Voters of America, called a hold on it as its citizen sponsor. They would like to see the bill revised again before the opportunity to receive a vote in the hopes of garnering more support for it and protecting the nearly two million online poker players who would be affected by it. There have been mixed reports that the wording of the bill has been changed in nature from authorizing a study of online poker to authorizing actual online poker itself.
For now, AB 2026 remains on hold, but work is being done behind the scenes to ready it for the Senate Appropriations Committee in January of 2009. Online poker for California players could come to fruition within a relatively short amount of time and subsequently, show the rest of the country why it makes so much sense to legalize and regulate the game.