Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2015 (CA AB No. 167 — Jones-Sawyer)
The Bill’s author commented that “[u]nder AB 167, [the Bill’s] authorized entities, which include tribal gaming facilities, licensed cardrooms and [now] in-state horse racing associations, must undergo an extensive determination of suitability process by the Department of Justice before they are able to apply for an operator license.”
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST AB 167, as introduced, Jones-Sawyer. Gambling: Internet poker: unlawful gambling activity. (1) Existing law, the Gambling Control Act, provides for the licensure of certain individuals and establishments that conduct controlled games, as defined, and for the regulation of these gambling activities by the California Gambling Control Commission. The Department of Justice has related investigatory and enforcement duties under the act. Any violation of these provisions is punishable as a misdemeanor, as specified. This bill, which would be known as the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2015, would establish a framework to authorize intrastate Internet poker, as specified. The bill would authorize eligible entities to apply for a 4-year license to operate an authorized poker Web site offering the play of authorized Internet poker games to registered players within California, as specified. The bill would require that the license be automatically renewed every 4 years upon application, as specified. The bill would prohibit the offer or play of any gambling game provided over the Internet that is not an authorized Internet poker game permitted by the state pursuant to these provisions. The bill would provide that it is unlawful for a person to aggregate computers or any other Internet access device in a place of public accommodation within the state, including a club or other association, or a public or other setting, that can accommodate multiple players to simultaneously play an authorized Internet poker game, or to promote, facilitate, or market that activity. The bill would provide that any violation of the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2015 is punishable as a felony. By creating new crimes, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program. This bill would require the commission, and any other state agency with a duty pursuant to these provisions, to adopt regulations to implement the provisions within 270 days after the operative date of this bill, in consultation with the department and federally recognized California Indian tribes, and to facilitate the operation of authorized poker Web sites and expedite the state's receipt of revenues. The bill would require an eligible entity, as defined, to pay an application processing fee sufficient to cover all reasonable costs associated with the review of the entity's suitability for licensure and the issuance of the license, for deposit into the Internet Poker Fund, as created by the bill, to be continuously appropriated to the department and the commission in the amounts necessary to perform their duties pursuant to this bill. The bill would require an entity seeking to act as a service provider to apply for a service provider license, employees of a licensed operator or a licensed service provider to obtain employee work permits, and owners, officers, and directors of a licensed operator to be subject to a suitability review and obtain employee work permits. The bill would establish a tribal gaming regulatory authority process for the purpose of processing tribal employee work permits, and authorize a tribe that is a licensed operator to elect to participate in the tribal gaming regulatory authority process. This bill would require the payment of an annual regulatory fee, for deposit into the Internet Poker Fund, to be continuously appropriated for the actual costs of license oversight, consumer protection, state regulation, and other purposes related to this bill. The bill would require each licensee to pay a one-time license deposit into the General Fund in the amount of $10,000,000. The license deposit would be credited against quarterly fees equivalent to 8.5% of the licensee's gross gaming revenue proceeds, as specified. The bill would require an applicant for an operator license to provide documentation establishing that the applicant is qualified to pay the one-time license deposit through its own net position or through credit directly to the applicant, as specified. This bill would establish the Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Fund within the General Fund for purposes of ensuring adequate resources for law enforcement charged with enforcing the prohibitions and protections of the provisions described above. The bill would authorize the Attorney General, and other public prosecutors, as specified, to bring a civil action to recover a civil penalty in an unspecified amount against a person who engages in those prohibited activities described above, or other specified unlawful gambling activities. The bill would provide for an unspecified percentage of revenues from civil penalties collected to be deposited into the fund and used for law enforcement activities pursuant to these provisions, upon appropriation by the Legislature. This bill would require the commission, in consultation with the department, the Treasurer, and the Franchise Tax Board, to issue a report to the Legislature describing the state's efforts to meet the policy goals articulated in this bill within one year of the operative date of this bill and, annually, thereafter. The bill would also require the Bureau of State Audits, at least 4 years after the issue date of any license by the state, but no later than 5 years after that date, to issue a report to the Legislature detailing the implementation of this bill, as specified. The bill would provide that specified provisions are not severable. (2)Existing constitutional provisions require that a statute that limits the right of access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies be adopted with findings demonstrating the interest protected by the limitation and the need for protecting that interest. This bill would make legislative findings to that effect. (3)The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement. This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason. (4)This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.