California’s Senate unanimously approved a bill (Senate  Bill 601) that would amend the state’s existing gambling law to enlarge the Gaming Policy Advisory Committee, the body tasked with considering the state's gambling regulatory policies, and to expand the issues the Committee may consider.

Existing state law (the Gambling Control Act, Cal. Bus. and Prof. Code 19800 et. seq.) authorizes the California Gambling Control Commission to appoint five representatives of holders of controlled gambling licenses and five members of the general public to the Gaming Policy Advisory Committee. Senate Bill

601 would authorize the appointment of two additional Committee members - one appointed by the Senate and one appointed by the Assembly - to serve as ex officio members.

In addition, the bill expands the issues the Committee may consider to include “the extent to which the regulation of permitted games, game procedures, and gambling expansion impedes the economic growth of the gambling sector in California, the impact of those regulations on state and local tax and fee proceeds, and the impact of new technologies on gambling.”

The bill’s overwhelming support in the Senate may be a harbinger of coming revisions to the state’s gambling policies. The proposed legislation directs the Committee to look at state and local tax and fee revenues generated by gaming, with an eye toward potentially amending the state’s regulatory policies to make California more competitive with other states in terms of revenue directly and indirectly flowing from gaming. The bill would not alter existing regulations immediately but would open the door to a more revenue-oriented approach to the state’s gaming policies. The state Assembly will now take up the bill.