Online Gambling in California: Still Unlikely

by Kyle Miller

Online Gambling in CaliforniaOnline gambling has been a topic of discussion in the state of California for years. Legislation has been created and stalled numerous times as legislators, Indian tribes, card rooms and other interested parties cannot seem to agree on how the industry should be created.

It seems that the fight for online gambling to take place within the state of California is never going to happen. Online casino and poker players have waited for years as legislation has been created and then stalled time and time again. The groups that would be involved in the industry, once created, cannot seem to agree on how gambling should take place and who should be involved. The main points of contention have placed the state at a disadvantage and will most likely continue to be the reasoning behind why the state is not the next to offer online casino or poker gaming.

Current Legislation

The current legislation in place that would legalize online gambling in California is titled the Internet Consumer Protection Act. This measure was created by Assemblyman Adam Gray and focuses on regulating online poker within the state. The legislation was not able to make it to the Assembly floor late week for a vote and there are only two more opportunities remaining in the current legislative session for the bill to be considered.

Optimism is low that online gambling will actually come to fruition within the state. Despite this fact, Gray has continued to talk with stakeholders to try and create the best suitability standards so that everyone involved will be satisfied. The final recess for legislature in California is the 31st of this month and yet the deadline for amended bills is this Friday. The Assembly met this past Monday and will meet again on Thursday. Nothing happened on Monday so basically the state has just Thursday to get their act together to try and see legislation move forward.

If the measure was able to pass through the Assembly, the bill would have to go to the Senate GO Committee before having a full hearing in the Senate. A Senate GO meeting is set for the 23rd, again showing just how little time is left to try and move the legislation forward. The bill began by not having enough votes and soon after, back in June, amendments were made to try and please those who did not want to move the legislation forward.

PokerStars Involvement

One main area of contention in regards to passing online gambling legislation in the state is PokerStars. The group has already partnered with tribal interests as well as card rooms to be ready for when online poker gaming would be approved. The amended legislation would be banned for a certain period of time or could pay a high amount of cash to be allowed into the industry. These stipulations are a main point of contention as some shareholders are okay with the penalties while others want to see even stiffer punishments in place.

What about Online Casino Gaming?

The current measure is focused on online poker gaming, but what about online casino options? The state of California could do well to offer online casino gaming but one would imagine that the Indian tribes would have an even bigger problem with online casino gaming being offered than they do with PokerStars. When discussions began, the tribes were worried that online gaming would affect their bottom line, taking away visitors from venues. However, tribes then began to consider the money that could be made by offering such online gaming options.

It will be interesting to see how the state progresses in regards to online gambling legislation. Will any bills be passed and gambling begin online in the state? Will California be like Nevada and offer only online poker gaming? Or perhaps be more like New Jersey and dominate both the online poker and casino gaming industries? Only time will tell what the state will be able to do but first, legislation must be approved and moved forward to get the ball rolling.