Steve Ruddock

Last year Assemblyman Isadore Hall III was the chairman of the Governmental Organization Committee in the California Assembly; a position he held for four years, from 2010 through 2014.

Hall has now moved on to the Senate (following his victory in a special election for indicted Senator Roderick Wright’s seat) but he will find himself in somewhat familiar position as he has been named the chair of the Governmental Organization Committee in the upper house according to Pechanga.net.

“I want to thank Senate President pro Tempore DeLeon for his leadership and for the trust he has placed in me to continue the important policy work of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee,” the newly minted senator stated. “There is a lot of work ahead of us in the coming months and years. I am especially excited to focus on emergency and disaster response issues to ensure that critical infrastructure like our ports, which is important to my district, remain safe, efficient and globally competitive. I look forward to working with legislators on both sides of the aisle and using my experience over the past six years as a Member and Chairman of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee to keep California on the leading edge of important public policy matters.”

One of those important public policy matters will be online poker, an area the GO committee is intimately involved in.

The GO Committee

Governmental Organization’s is a powerful committee, and is of particular interest to online poker proponents. As well as overseeing a number of non-gaming responsibilities the committee is also responsible for horseracing and public gaming, and any online poker bill in California will likely originate in the GO Committee.

Even if another committee begins the process, for an online poker bill to pass in California, it basically needs the approval of the GO Committee members.

Hall’s stance on online poker

Last year Hall presided over the somewhat contentious hearing where tribal leaders discussed online poker possibilities. Mid-hearing news broke that the rumored partnership between PokerStars and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Bicycle Casino, Commerce Casino, and Hawaiian Gardens Casino. The news changed the mood inside the room almost instantly, but Hall pushed forward, intent on getting the most out of the hearing as possible.

During the hearing Hall seemed very amenable to online poker, and after the announcement of the PokerStars partnership repeatedly spoke about finding common ground between the tribes, and his desire to not let a single issue (Bad Actor clauses) derail the incredible amount of progress that has already been made.

Hall may not be one of the champions of online poker in the state, but he certainly seems sympathetic to it, and is good choice for the Senate GO Chairmanship if you’re an advocate of online poker.

Online Poker bills already rolling in

Before the 2015/2016 legislative session has even been convened, Assemblyman Mike Gatto has already introduced an online poker bill, AB 9.The bill is fairly similar to previous efforts (most closely resembling Reginald Jones-Sawyer Assembly bill from last year) including a strict Bad Actor/Tainted Assets clause, although it does diverge in several key areas such as the requirement of in-person registrations.

It will be interesting to see if other online poker bills are introduced, and if they are, which bill(s) are ultimately selected as the jumping off point for debate – Gatto told Marco Valerio his bill is nothing more than an opening statement, and shouldn’t be considered a finished product.

Gatto told Valerio online poker is something he has been looking into for a number of years, and last Thursday he wrote an op-ed explaining why he felt California should go “All-in” on online poker.

More bills are certainly likely.

Last year saw the introduction of two separate online poker bills, one in the Senate by now-retired Lou Correa, and one in the Assembly by Reginald Jones-Sawyer.

There was also a draft floated in the summer by a coalition of the 13 tribes formed to oppose the PokerStars faction mentioned above. The tribal bill was based off Jones-Sawyer’s AB 2291, but was never introduced and didn’t gain any public support.

Furthermore, according to Assemblyman Mike Gatto in his interview with Marco Valerio, he also had designs on introducing an online poker bill last year, but was asked to defer to Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer.

Steve Ruddock
Steve Ruddock - Steve is one of the most recognizable names in the online poker media space. He brings his deep knowledge and equally deep well of opinions to his coverage at CaliforniaOnlinePoker.com.