Kendall James AB431 California poker online bill

As a vote approaches on a bill to legalize online poker in California, influential voices on both sides of the issue have ramped up lobbying efforts in the State Legislature.

As the bill, AB 431, sat before the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee ahead of Thursday’s vote, two high-profile gaming alliances penned open letters to committee chair Jimmy Gomez.

PokerStars coalition reinforces importance of regulation

PokerStars has aligned itself with the Morongo and San Manuel Bands of Mission Indians, as well as the Commerce, Hawaiian Gardens, and Bicycle Casinos, in supporting AB 431.

Writing to Gomez, the coalition stressed the benefits of legalizing and regulating online poker. Namely, the group said, AB 431’s success would mean increased layers of security for California players, and lucrative revenue streams for the state.

“Every year that California fails to act not only puts consumers at risk while playing online games from offshore localities that provide few protections and regulations,” the group wrote, adding that offshore play has already cost the state “hundreds of millions of dollars” in lost income.

The opposition wrote a letter, too

In opposition to AB 431, the Pechanga Coalition also wrote to Gomez, urging a conservative approach to the bill. As a comprehensive arrangement regarding online poker would have “significant fiscal impacts,” the tribes said, more time should be allotted for negotiation and debate.

“Although stakeholders have made progress in building consensus on some issues, important disagreements remain,” the letter read.

AB 431 moves through Appropriations Committee

On Thursday, AB 431 passed the Appropriations Committee.

In its current form, AB 431 is effectively a shell bill, meaning its passage would have no direct, immediate fiscal impact. As such, any positive traction in the legislature would need to be accompanied, eventually, by a firmer agreement on the bill’s specific language.

Image Aaron Kohr /

Kendall James
Kendall James - Kendall has been covering the gaming industry for over 7 years. Kendall lives in San Francisco with his wife and black Labrador. Kendall often travels to Sacramento and Nevada to covers legislative hearings and iGaming conferences.