On June 12th there will be some additional changes to California’s online poker bill SB1463. The main change will require that license applicants must currently operate a brick and mortar card room or casino that offers poker. Other changes include reducing the duration of the online poker license from ten years to five, as well as removing a provision which could have allowed other casino games to be offered by operators after two years of being licensed.
The fee for a five year online poker license will be $30 million. Licenses will be issued by the California Gambling Control Commission (CGCC) rather than the California Department of Justice. Applicants will also need to be in “good standing” for a minimum of three years with the CGCC before their license will be considered.
These changes come mostly to appease the influential California tribal associations who have interests in ensuring that they maintain their leg up in offering online poker residents of the state. By limiting the applications to only the currently operating poker rooms/casinos, many of whom are run by Indian Tribes, there will be significantly less competition in the online scene. It also means that there will be no outside operators swooping into the lucrative market, without first entering into a partnership with an existing licensed entity.
Provisions in bill SB1463 will allow partnerships to apply for a license, so long as a member of the partnership meets the licensing criteria. The partnership between Bwin.Party and the United Auburn Indian Community (UAIC), for example, will qualify due to the existing relationship between the UAIC and the CGCC.
There is currently no provision in bill SB1463 which would limit the number of internet poker licenses issued. While there is not yet a specific time that the doors of online poker will officially open for Californian online poker, it is likely that it could happen before the end of this year.