James Guill

After months of optimism and negotiations, State Senator Lou Correa has thrown in the towel for online poker in 2014. As reported in the LA Times over the weekend, Correa has determined that there is not enough time in the present legislative session to get SB 1366 revised and voted up. He has officially shelved the measure for the year.

The bad news behind the shelving of this bill is that it is almost back to square one for anyone wishing to pick up the issue next year. Senator Correa will not return next year due to term limits, meaning that someone else will need to step up and lead California in the US online poker market.

The Positives

While Correa didn’t get his bill passed this year, there were a couple of big milestones reached. First, Indian tribes have mostly come to a consensus on online poker with most tribes supporting it.

Next, the issues surrounding the bad actor clause have forced PokerStars to do the unthinkable and sell to another company. Amaya Inc will now operate the Rational Group under their umbrella and offer PokerStars as one of their products. While the bad actor language would deem this a “tainted asset,” Amaya should be able to work something out to eventually bring PokerStars to the state.

What’s the Focus for 2015?

Obviously, the main focus for next year will be moving past the bad actor clause. Amaya has opened the door by purchasing PokerStars and now it is up to Indian tribes to decide what they will accept moving forward.

Next, the horse racing track issue has to be resolved. While Tribes would prefer to cut down on competition, horse racing proposes less of a threat than PokerStars. This seems to be an issue that should fall into place once the bad actor clause is resolved. What form this takes remains to be seen.

Of course, then the necessary red tape will need to be worked through to ultimately legalize the game. With the elections behind them, lawmakers should have the time to properly focus on the issue and bring a swift conclusion to the matter. Don’t be surprised if online poker is legalized before Summer 2015.