The AB 2863 legislative bill to legalize online poker in California has gained the support of the state’s horse racing industry, giving it a further push towards moving forward in the legislative process.
The online poker bill proposed by Assemblyman Adam Gray includes a provision for online poker operators to annually pay the horse racing industry up to $60 million from their revenue in exchange for the racing industry to agree to opt out of entering the online poker industry.
The key stakeholders of California’s horse racing industry have sent a letter of support to Assemblyman Adam Gray for the proposed bill as well as the legalization, but have added certain conditions to the support.
According to the letter, if any company or association that offers live horse racing shuts down its operations, it must barred from receiving any of the payment benefits from US online poker operators. The letter has also stated that while the horse racing industry was agreeing not to participate in the online poker industry, it did not mean that the industry would refrain from entering either the online gaming industry or online horse betting at a later date.
The key signatories to the letter of support were: the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the California Authority of Racing Fairs, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, CA Teamsters Public Affairs Council, California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, California Throroughbred Trainers, Jockeys Guild, SEIU California and Los Alamitos Racing Association.
The letter sent by the horse racing industry to Gray also highlighted a key concern of the industry. It said that California was the only state that barred horse racing industry from offering any form of gaming on its venues, limiting the avenues for revenue generation. By denying it the opportunity to gain revenue from poker games or slot machines the letter said that a financial imbalance was created. This imbalance was specifically evident when compared to other states such as Maryland, New York and Florida.
The bill is to be presented for its first hearing by the committee on April 27. Support from all key stakeholders for Assemblyman Gray’s bill will boost the chances of the bill progressing.
After six years of effort, only one bill AB 431 received committee approvals but it stalled in later stages.
According to the provisions in the bill, the first $60 million collected in revenue from online operators after accounting for license fees and deposits will be moved to a General Fund called California Horse Racing Internet Poker Account for further distribution to the racing industry.