SACRAMENTO – After two months of meetings with experts in technology, security, and online commerce, Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) announced today the first set of proposed amendments to his California online-poker bill. “My goal remains creating a sensible framework for a new California industry,” said Gatto. “That will involve a thoughtful process of consultation with all of the key stakeholders. I pride myself in listening; I expect this process will continue throughout the year.”
The legislation, AB 9, would establish a regulatory structure to provide all participants, from players to website operators, with certainty and security that will legitimize the game, support locally owned businesses, and keep much-needed revenue in the state. “The status quo is a lost opportunity,” said Gatto. “Californians already participate in online poker, but send their dollars overseas. By regulating and legitimizing this industry we will increase security, protect business owners, and keep our money here in the Golden State.”
This set of amendments most notably addresses the in-person sign-up requirement of the original version of the legislation. Rather than require players to register at a brick-and-mortar establishment, AB 9 will be amended to make in-person registration optional for players. “After meeting with security experts and hearing from poker players and industry professionals, I have concluded that online poker would be best served by making in-person registration an option rather than a requirement,” said Gatto. “State of the art technology currently used by operators in other states when registering players accesses many of the same databases used by financial institutions to verify the identity of registrants and prevent fraud.”
Giving players the option to register in person will still generate foot traffic and provide business to brick-and-mortar operators, while giving players the greatest flexibility in making transactions. Gatto is also considering ideas to require a new annual tournament that will drive players to existing brick-and-mortar establishments.
In addition to that amendment, Gatto is considering raising the sanctions against the operators of unauthorized online poker operators, making it a felony for those who illegally offer real-money games to players in California, and offering additional resources to the Attorney General to enforce the new regime. Any amendments will appear in print after the bill is referred to its first committee for a hearing.
“California has led the world in computer and Internet innovation, including online security and screening, and there is no reason why we can't lead with a sensible online-poker framework,” said Gatto. “These amendments are derived from time-tested business practices that have received significant support from stakeholders. Lawmakers should listen to feedback from experts as they seek to form sound public policy.”
Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Consumer Protection and Privacy Committee, and the longest-serving current member of the State Assembly. He represents California’s 43rd Assembly District, which includes Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, and Silver Lake. www.asm.ca.gov/gatto