After holding the first ever committee vote on iPoker, the state of California seems to finally be taking steps to move forward with legislation on the matter. With a unanimous vote, the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee agreed to discuss AB 431, a shell bill, in greater deal in future hearings on the subject of online poker.
The vote is the first step to moving forward with such legislation as Assemblyman Adam Gray’s shell bill. The AB 431 measure was not filed as an urgency measure like other online poker bills in the state which meant the measure had to be approved before May 1st, the deadline for bills to be considered during the current session.
Gray filed amendments to the bill just before a hearing of the Assembly which took place on Monday. The amendment changes have not been released but apparently were enough to see a coalition led by the Pechanga tribe to change their position to neutral from opposed.
During the hearing, Mark Macarro, the chairman for the Pechanga tribe, stated that the coalition is still in opposition of California racetracks taking part in online poker gaming. The coalition believes that since tracks do not currently have licensing to offer poker gaming they should not be allowed to do so online as this would be considered an expansion of gambling. An expansion is contradictory to the wishes of state voters and the tribe says allowing the tracks to take part would make a mockery of the gaming compacts between the tribes and state.
Despite the unanimous vote, there was some opposition during the hearing. James Butler of the California Coalition Against Gambling Expansion, asked when some flesh would be added to the bones of the AB 431 measure. Gray responded that this would depend on the Joint Assembly/Senate Informational hearings; one taking place on the 20th of May and the other on the 24th of June. A third hearing is also on the books for July 8th.