Senator Pulls California Internet Poker Bill

Measure was set for major hearing before state senate committee June 12.

California legislation that would legalize Internet poker for state residents was pulled prior to a scheduled committee vote on the measure June 12.

The Senate Governmental Organization Committee was set to consider SB 1463 when Sen. Rod Wright, who chairs the panel, announced to a crowded room at the start of the hearing that he had decided to pull his bill, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Major gambling tribes and card rooms objected to the measure due to the inclusion of horse race tracks, advance deposit wagering companies, and Las Vegas gambling interests. There were also conflicts over whether other types of games beyond basic poker should be allowed.

Wright's version was a compromise bill resulting from two proposed Internet poker laws that had been introduced in 2011 but failed to clear the committee due to infighting among those that would participate.

The Inglewood Democrat's bill had been the subject of much negotiation resulting in several recent amendments leading up to the Tuesday hearing.

Wright, a supporter of horse racing, was advocating the measure as a way to raise millions for the state in licensing and usage fees while also combating illegal off-shore operations where Californians currently play online poker.

A spokesman for the senator's office said it was still possible the bill could return this year with additional amendments.

A second bill by Wright that would legalize betting on professional and collegiate sporting events at racetracks, simulcast centers, tribal gaming casinos, and card clubs was approved for amendments a second time June 13. It was re-referred to the G.O. Committee for a June 20 hearing.