Will You Be Able to Play Legal and Regulated Online Poker in California Soon?

by Lou on May 2, 2009

A bill called the California Online Poker Law Enforcement Compliance and Consumer Protection Act will go to the state legislature soon.
It’s a bill that draws a distinction between intrastate gaming within California’s borders and the federal Unlawful Interstate Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), and notes that intrastate wagering is not considered “illegal internet gambling” under UIGEA. In other words, if enacted, this bill would establish legal, regulated online gaming within California’s borders.

In fact, the bill’s language states that it would “… protect the millions of Californians who play poker online, and allow state law enforcement to license, regulate internet poker sites that can ensure these consumer protections…” Section 1 of the bill goes on to state, “Leading gaming consultants estimate that in 2008 United States citizens wagered more than ten billion dollars ($10,000,000,000) online at off-shore, non-United States Internet gambling Web sites, that this amount is likely to grow steadily over the next decade and that every week more than 1,000,000 California citizens play poker on the Internet.”
Internet poker licenses would be issued to California tribes and gaming establishments currently holding gaming licenses in California, and license holders would be regulated within California.

With California’s financial difficulties, revenue raised through online gaming is an important attribute of this bill. Since California already regulates and taxes gaming activities, adding online poker to the mix is actually nothing more than a logical extension of current state gaming regulatory activities.
While state sanctioned intrastate online poker in California won’t have the same impact as rolling back UIGEA and regulating online gaming across the United States, California’s population and potential market gives it a sufficient critical mass to succeed as a market by itself. While there probably aren’t enough online players in states like Montana, Vermont, and Idaho to serve as stand-alone intrastate poker markets, California’s population exceeds that of many nations, and the state is filled with poker players too.

I’d like to see this bill enacted into law. Then, for me and other Golden State residents, it will be all California poker, all the time—a nice diversion while we wait for the eventual demise of UIGEA.

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