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California Tries Again to Legalize, Regulate Online Poker

Posted on by John Lathram

California PokerCalifornia Bill 2863 seems to be gaining momentum, and intrastate online poker very well might be a reality in the near future.

As you are probably well-aware, the simple fact of the matter is that there is nothing straightforward about the online poker industry in the United States. Apart from the sheer quantity of rumors regarding its legality, players are often scared away by sites being based off shore and the possibility of having their personal or financial information stolen. In addition to all of this, there are states actively legalizing and regulating real money poker games online. With as much revenue as the intrastate systems have created for the states who have established them, it is a surprise that every other state is not following suit. And, up to this point, very few other states have even so much as entertained the idea. In a vast expanse of darkness, however, there shines a light far out on the West coast. California has been pondering the legalization and regulation of online poker for years now, but it seems as though they are ready to move forward with full force this time.

Right now, Assembly Bill 2863, the brainchild of Assemblymen Adam Gray and Reggie Jones-Sawyer, is beginning to gain a bit of attention and perhaps some steam to go along with it. The bill would do little more than set up a framework for the operation of legal, regulated online poker within the state. A major pitfall of the bill, however, is that it will require a $60 million charge annually to, in so many words, subsidize the horse racing industry. Naturally, if online poker is going to get its day in the sun, horse racing is going to want to flex its muscles as well.

As the bill is written currently, the only people or organizations able to offer online poker will be pre-existent Native American casinos as well as card rooms, of which are located across the state. Though these establishments must act independently to a degree, they are also open to being paired up with bigger industry names as well.

Other states have already established a legalized network by which players can play poker and other casino games online, and it seems to have worked out fairly well so far. New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada have all established instrastate networks. California’s bill resembles the ones in the aforementioned states because it mandates that every player has their location confirmed by geolocation technology. If someone is found to somehow be breaking the law by playing California poker games in another state, they would face a felony charge. Many people think that this is a bit extreme, but the feeling is that the strong punishment is to show other California lawmakers that the intrastate system is one that will be looked over very closely at all times.

As it stands currently, the state of gambling, especially online poker in California, is something that confuses more often than not. As is the case in many other states, most poker and other casino games can only be played on lands controlled and owned by Native Americans. There are card rooms that exist as well, but these are only able to offer a limited number of games and at off-hours; unlike casinos which rarely ever close.

California is not only a very liberal state, it is a state that is strapped for cash. Having found revenue streams in the legalization of marijuana, something that has also reduced the crime rate, it is extremely confusing why they are lagging so far behind when it comes to legalized and regulated online poker. Similar bills have been proposed in the past, but they were most often shot down and thrown away after little consideration. Another factor that California should consider is all the dollars that are leaving the state to gamble in casinos and online in neighboring Nevada. You would think it would be smart to cut into Nevada’s poker stranglehold out West, but that much does not seem to be the case. While it is unclear what the future holds for online poker in the state of California, we do know for sure that the rest of this year will be quite exciting.

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