California, New Jersey Online Gambling Measures Make Headlines
With online poker legislation in the USA in the process of being refocused on individual states, recent efforts in both California and New Jersey show that the process continues moving forward.
The California scene looked all but dead just a couple of months ago, when the previous push for intrastate online poker collapsed due to political in-fighting. But this week, pokerfuse reported that a revised version of SB 1463, the California online poker bill, will be reintroduced, possibly as early as this week. This will be a poker-only measure, and it will be sponsored by State Sen. Roderick Wright, one of the primary supporters of previous versions of the bill.
Whether this latest iteration of SB 1463 (at least the third) can avoid the in-fighting that doomed the 2012 remains to be seen. The 2012 version died after California’s powerful tribal casino interests essentially took over the bill, introducing changes that froze out many other normally pro-gambling interests.
Those interests included California’s horseracing and other pari-mutuel concerns, who were blocked well into the process by the people in control of COPA, the so-called California Online Poker Association.
COPA, a loose conglomeration of three dozen or so California tribal nations and independent cardrooms, was still under the thumb of the two Mission bands, the Morongos and San Miguels. Those two tribes’ grand scheme for control of California online poker fell apart in a big way; COPA itself disintegrated when the last version of SB 1463 was abandoned.
Will those involved learn from their mistakes … and greed … in 2013? Stay tuned for more California dreams.
Meanwhile, across the continent in New Jersey, prospects are rosier for some real legislative action on online gambling. New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak and State Rep. John Burzichelli, the primary movers of the revised New Jersey online gambling bill (which includes poker), have that measure on track as promised for an Assembly vote tomorrow.
This bill is going to sail through votes in both the NJ Assembly and Senate this week, and it’s then going to return to the desk of Governor Chris Christie, who has vetoed previous versions of the measure despite showing a willingness to consider the measure.
Perhaps now, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, with New Jersey and its gambling industries more cash-strapped than ever before, Christie goes ahead and signs it. It’s also possible that even if Christie vetoes it again, the votes exist to override a veto and put the bill into law anyway.
As we’ve mentioned before, the Jersey bill also includes the prospects of PokerStars finding an avenue to return to the United States. As reported earlier this month, Stars remains in serious talks to buy a small Atlantic City boardwalk casino, but it’s ludicrous to not pretend that Stars isn’t also involved behind the scenes in Jersey’s online gambling bill. If the bill does get signed into law, expect Stars to be at the front of the queue of online license applicants.
An updating of state-by-state legislative prospects just wouldn’t be complete without a check-in on matters over at the Poker Players Alliance, which was there to throw in the towel on Reid-Kyl earlier this week.
The PPA’s reps have been quick to transition to a new state-by-state focus — which, to be frank, is what they should have been doing all along. The reasons they haven’t have more to do with the PPA dollars flowing to the pockets of DC-based lobbyists, a self-interested group if ever there was one, with poker’s greater interests suffering for years as a result.
Yet faced with an adapt-or-die situation, the PPA is choosing to adapt. The ever-present 2+2 thread operated by the PPA which has urged forum readers to Tweet their federal lawmakers has now been modified with a title now stating, “The fight moves to the states starting today. We need EVERYONE in!” Though why PPA rep Rich Muny has people Tweeting their Senators remains a mystery.
It’s not much, but at least it’s a start. Tweeting and other such social-network postings fall into the general category of slactivism, and have less real impact than most people think. We need state-by-state efforts with real grassroots groups and forced meetings with state legislators, and it remains to be seen if the PPA can gear up properly for that effort.
Nonetheless, with the demise of the awful Reid-Kyl bill, real progress towards regulated online poker in the US can now move forward. Progress will be slow, and states such as Utah will never get involved. Yet the flip side is we are going to have a handful of states where US online poker is formerly regulated and authorized. We’re not there yet, but the time is coming.