It appears that legal betting online is about to come to the great state of California. With 2014 just around the corner, there is great reason to have optimism if you are a poker playing resident of the Golden State. Watching Nevada, New Jersey and even Delaware pass online gambling legislation which made Internet wagering legal on a slew of casino and card games seems to be inching California closer and closer to legalizing Internet poker and perhaps other forms of gambling for its residents and visitors. 2013 marks the third consecutive year that the California Legislature has been presented bills looking to legalize some form of online gambling.
And though the lawmakers in California, again for the third year in a row, adjourned for the year without voicing an opinion on Internet poker one way or another, multiple indicators show early 2014 as heralding the arrival of legal online gambling in the US state with the largest population and possible player pool. California is approaching 40 million residents, a total which is more than three times as much the combined population of the three states mentioned above which have already legalized some form of online gambling. And with New Jersey and Nevada already passing legislation that would allow for intrastate compacts and player pool mingling, California owning the largest population by far of any US state would definitely make them an attractive partner for all other states that legalize Internet poker and other forms of gambling.
Californians are already very well versed in gambling, supporting multiple brick-and-mortar poker rooms. The US Supreme Court Way back in 1987 even pointed out that “California permits a substantial amount of gambling activity.” This makes it even more puzzling why legal betting online in some form has not already come to pass in the Golden State. Estimates from industry analysts show that lawful gaming currently going on in California in tribal casinos, physical poker rooms, at racetracks and through the state lottery generates more than $10 billion in gross revenue every year.
So we have a state which has already professed a love for gambling, and pressure to join the growing list of US states which already offer some type of legalized Internet gambling. Also, the 2008 economic crisis the US is still suffering from has hit California especially hard. The potential revenue would be in the billions of dollars for California, a state whose government is vastly underfunded. There are currently three separate Internet poker proposals waiting consideration at the state Capitol, and John Pappas, The Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) believes passage will come early and quickly in 2014.
The PPA is a nonprofit organization which is a proponent of online poker delivered to American citizens either through blanket federal legislation, or individual states passing their own laws. Senator Roderick Wright has proposed State Bill (SB) 51, and as Chairman of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee, Wright is confident that early next year his bill will pass. SB 678 was authored by Senator Lou Correa, and has a lot of fans because it reflects the viewpoints of a group of 15 California Indian tribes. Also, a second tribal coalition which includes the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians began circulating a legal proposal in 2013 as well. Multiple legislative viewpoints are represented, giving California an excellent chance at entering 2014 with legalized Internet poker, and perhaps other forms of legal betting online.