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Gary Trask

Gary  Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's Editor in Chief and has worked as a writer and editor more than 25 years. The Boston native was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's inaugural Media Committee.

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California online poker bill passes committee, heads to full Assembly

23 Jun 2016

By Gary Trask
It's been nearly a decade in the making, but an online poker bill in California is finally heading to a full Assembly for a possible vote after passing through the California Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.

Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced)

Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced)

The vote on AB 2863 was scheduled to take place last week, after it passed the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee by a unanimous vote in late April.

But the hearing was delayed in order to add amendments to the bill, including a "bad actor" clause penalizing any operator that accepted California players between 2006 and 2011 with a five-year wait period or a $20 million fine, to be deposited into a general fund. In addition, 10% of tax revenue from gross gaming revenues would now go into the general fund, no matter what annual gross gaming revenues were in any given year. The remaining 90% would go to horse racing and fairs until $60 million is reached.

Finally, a provision that would allow the license deposit to be offset by reduced taxes on gross gaming revenues was removed from the bill.

"The various attempts to regulate iPoker over the past few years have mainly focused on two key issues: the horse-racing industry as a licensee and the suitability of potential licensee applicants," said Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced), who introduced and sponsored the bill. "We have taken numerous amendments to address both of these issues. Today we also took amendments to address fiscal concerns expressed by the Appropriations Committee to ensure a healthy and competitive marketplace as well as appropriate revenues to the state."

This is the second straight year that the California legislative committee has passed a bill that aims to regulate online poker, but it could mark the first time an online poker bill gets a floor vote from the full Assembly. It would need a two-thirds majority vote to progress to the state Senate.

"Throughout this process, we have remained committed to open and inclusive discussions to craft the best possible iPoker law in the nation," said Gray. "I look forward to continuing to work with all parties in our efforts to finally provide a safe online gaming option for the upwards of one million Californians who currently have no choice but to utilize offshore sites who operate outside the reach of regulators and law enforcement."
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