‘Strong possibility’ of online poker launch in California next year

‘Strong possibility’ of online poker launch in California next year

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The launch of a regulated online poker market in California remains a “strong possibility” next year according to Aaron Moreno, legislative director of Assembleyman Mike Gatto, who has launched a new bill in the hope of legalising this form of gambling in the US state.

The AB 9 legislation, which could pave the way for the long-awaited launch, has been designed to create a framework for the state’s online poker industry.

The legislation would establish a regulatory structure, under which all players and operators would be provided with “certainty and security that will legitimise the game, support locally-owned businesses, and keep much-needed revenue in the state,” Gatto’s website said.

AB 9 appears to be similar to a bill submitted earlier this year by Senator Lou Correa. However, the legislation was ultimately scrapped after Correa said in August that there would not be enough time for the bill to be passed before the end of the current year.

Speaking to TotallyGaming.com about the new bill, Moreno said AB 9 builds on previous versions of legislation introduced in California and features a number of new provisions that could help push it through into law.

“This bill contains new provisions that will enhance security to address concerns about underage players and financial crimes,” Moreno told TotallyGaming.com.

“It also ‘expands the pie’ with provisions that will allow participation in online poker by entities that may not necessarily be able to actually operate an online poker website.”

These provisions include the requirement for accounts to be opened in person at a bricks-and-mortar establishment, the creation of Satellite Service Centres that are licensed to offer poker but may not be able to operate a website, and the requirement for in-person withdrawals when taking out a certain amount.

“All three of these provisions will prevent underage gaming, financial crimes, and other types of fraud – i.e. people who would try to open ‘bot’ accounts,” Moreno said.

In terms of the chances of this bill being brought into law next year, Moreno said that if it can gain enough support from the relevant parties, then there is a “strong possibility” California could be running a regulated online poker market in 2015.

“There is certainly a will to get this done, in light of previous attempts that stalled out in recent legislative sessions,” Moreno  said.
“I plan to work with all parties involved to craft a bill that creates a secure and equitable system in California.

“If we can capitalise on this ‘critical mass’ there is a strong possibility we can pass this legislation and authorise the creation of websites for California players.”

Moreno also highlighted the various benefits this sort of regulated service could bring to the state – not only in terms of revenue, but also security for players.

“Obviously it would create a new revenue stream to the state,” Moreno said. “Just as important, it will create a secure environment where players will have certainty in a number of areas – account security, access to funds and fair games.

“California players who may be playing on off-shore sites are often putting their funds at risk due to a lack of regulation of these sites. If players know that they can get a fair game and can actually count on getting their funds upon withdrawal, we will bring many of them home.

“This will grow the market and bring revenue to all participants, from players to operators.”

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