Bill Legalizing Online Poker in California Dead for Now

by Lou on July 4, 2010

California state senator Rod Wright’s (D-Los Angeles) bill that would have made the state the first to legalize online gambling was pulled by its author in the face of strong opposition.

Wright promised to go back to the drawing board and reintroduce the bill once it is rewritten, but made no promise that the Legislature will consider a bill legalizing online poker prior to adjournment next month.

“It’s not a dead process,” said Wright. “Just because we don’t do this today doesn’t mean people are going to stop playing Internet poker.”

Wright’s bill would have allowed the state Department of Justice to award 20-year contracts to up to three operators to run legal online gambling websites, with the operators having to meet legal, technical, and financial requirements and have offices in California.

The bill also would have also made it a crime for California residents to play poker on sites located outside of California—a provision that irked many who otherwise might have supported Wright’s efforts.

California’s tribal gaming industry also opposed the bill because it would have allowed out-of-state companies to bid on the contracts.

“This should be run by Californians, for Californians,” said Patrick Dorinson, a spokesman for the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, which operates a casino off Interstate 10 near Banning.

My Comment: A bill that criminalizes poker play on sites located outside of California is a deal breaker.  So too is any bill that does not have strong support from California tribes who now offer live gaming on their reservations.  Wright has a lot of negotiating to do—and a lot of selling too—before he has a bill that stands a chance of surviving a journey through the unpredictable waters of the California state legislature.

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