California Reloads with Jones-Sawyer Online Poker Bill

Legislators in California aren’t giving up on the idea of legal, regulated online poker in the state.

Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer introduced yet another bill this week that seeks to legalize the game.

The new bill, titled the Internet Consumer Protection Act or AB1677, would allow tribes and casinos in the state to offer online poker to anyone over 21 years old in the Golden state.

Interestingly the bill features a progressive tax on the operators that starts at 8.847% but increases all the way to 15% for sites able to rake in $350m or more.

There would also be a steep $12m license fee for operators looking to enter the market.

No Bad Actor Language

Arguably the most contentious issue of online poker in California is how to treat private operators like PokerStars who operated in the state for years without a license.

Phil Hellmuth

California-based poker pro Phil Hellmuth.

On one hand you have a coalition of tribes including the Pechanga Band and Agua Caliente Band, which oppose PokerStars returning to the state.

On the other hand you have another coalition of tribes including the Morongo that would allow PokerStars to operate in the state.

The new bill does not have any specific language regarding “bad actors” and would leave that up to the individual regulators.

Last year a promising online poker bill fell apart because the various parties couldn’t agree on “bad actor” language in the bill.

The new bill would also establish the Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Fund that would create an agency to go after unregulated offshore operators that currently offer poker to Californians.