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Failed California Online Poker bill



After 10 bills across an eight-year period, the latest plans to legalize poker in California has died after continued squabbling by competing factions of the gambling industry.

The bill was to allow Californians to legally play online poker and fantasy sports that involve gambling, but was not brought up to vote on the final day as two-thirds of the state did not support it.

It is thought that because it is an election year that the bill was not supported because of the uncertainty around how voters would react.

The proposal by Assemblyman Adam Gray would have seen California allowed a seven-year state internet poker and gambling license to be granted.  An up front fee of $12.5 million per website had also been discussed but no final agreement had been made.

In most states, daily fantasy sports are considered skill games, and are legalized because they have not been included in the online gambling market.  Fantasy sports sites offer players the possibility to win real money prizes.  They allow players to create their own fantasy sports teams with a fixed budget to hire sports stars, and have an easy set of rules to follow.  Contests are run daily and weekly, as well as season-long.

Unfortunately, in California, as well as the likes of Arizona, Louisiana and Washington, this is not the case.

More than 40 million Americans play fantasy sports, in a market that raises more than $1 billion in revenue.  The fantasy sports market includes all of America's major sports leagues as well as some of the most relevant college sports.

Without backing of the Senate leadership, the daily fantasy sports bill is unlikely to come to fruition in California.  Opposition have argued that there are lots of companies who have been operating illegally under California law, whilst the licensing structure has also come into question.

DraftKings and FanDuel were famously on the receiving end of cease-and-desist letters in November 2015 from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.  Playing Legal are one news source that covered the story, with Scheiderman claiming these operators were operating illegally under state law, in his office's opinion. His office argued that daily fantasy sports constitutes a game of chance under state law, and is not a game of skill.

Operators face a tough regulations across the USA and California is proving to be a stumbling block for them.  This despite the industry being worth multi-billions both in the United States and worldwide.