Third Online Poker Bill Proposal for California
Once more, the public officials of California will be perusing the text of a new online gambling bill that aims to legalize internet poker activities within the state’s borders. There have been two previous attempts this year alone by lawmakers to pass an online gaming bill for the Golden State, but neither made it to the governor’ desk due to a lack of favorable guidelines and sufficient proponents in the senate. Could the third time be the charm?
Titled ‘The Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2013’, this new California online poker bill would provide regulatory legalization and licensing for well-established casinos and card-rooms already operating within the state to apply for an online gaming license. As the name implies, online poker would be the only form of gambling permitted in California; no casino table games, slots, video poker, sports betting or other forms of wagering would be permissible over the internet.
The provisions of the online poker bill were designed to introduce internet gaming on an intrastate; at least for the time being. That would mean that only residents of the Golden State would be able to participate at any California licensed online poker room. California is in the best position compared to other states that have passed online gambling laws – currently Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey – because it has a massive potential player base with 37 million residents. However, the option to convert to an interstate level would still be there. We know that Nevada wants to adapt to an interstate poker network as soon as the opportunity becomes available, but at present, Nevada is the only state to move beyond legalization, actually opening the very first legal online gambling site in the United States.
This latest draft of the bill has also omitted the possibility of horse racing groups from opening online gaming sites. Only operators of land-based card rooms would be eligible to apply for licensing, and even then, only those with an elite reputation would stand a chance of approval.
One of the more interesting stipulations of the California online poker bill is known as the ‘Bad Actor Clause’. This section of the bill strictly prohibits any online gambling operator that proffered its services to residents of California in the past – such as PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, etc. – from ever being able to receive a license to operate in the state of California.
The last two bills that stalled on their way to legalization were introduced by state senators. Sen. Rod Wright proposed Senate Bill No. 51 in December, and Sen. Lou Correa introduced his Senate Bill No. 687 in February. In direct contrast, this third attempt was actually crafted by the collaboration of eight tribal groups. Could it be that tribal assemblies have a better cue on the necessary guidelines for legalization to see a bill finally arrive on the governor’s desk?
No previous attempt has ever made it that far, and for the moment there is no indication of whether this online poker bill has any legs to stand on. What we do know is that if California wants to get in on the online poker market, they had better make something happen quickly as their neighboring Silver State has already gotten the wagon rolling with the launch of UltimatePoker.com on April 30, 2013.