California – Online Gambling Bill Debated by Senate

Senate Bill 1463. That doesn’t seem like a very daunting or imposing title for a bill that could change the economic climate in California virtually overnight. But it most certainly has the opportunity to do just that. The California Senate is the next stop for the online gambling bill that would make California the second state to allow online gaming for money since the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) passed regulating online gaming to the state level. The Senate’s Policy Committee will certainly grapple over security issues as well as regulatory requirements and other concerns before making their decision, but legalized online poker play could be getting closer for California residents and tourists.

If the bill is approved and moves forward, the Internet Gambling Consumer Protection and Public-Private Partnership Act of 2012 would issue online gaming licenses and tax the gross revenue generated. With more than 37 million residents, California is far and away the biggest prize in the online gaming sweepstakes. Licensing fees alone would generate an instant influx of tens of millions of dollars, not to mention revenue generated by taxes. California has been one of a handful of states pushing to become the second since Nevada beat the rest of the United States to the punch, and became the first state to legally offer poker play to its residents and visitors.

Senate Bill 1463 was initially put forth on February 24 of this year by Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Senator Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood). This is not Wright’s first attempt to legalize online poker play in the Golden State, however. Back in 2010 he introduced a bill that was very similar in scope, but his efforts were unsuccessful. Currently, tribal gaming operations have exclusive rights to offer gaming on video devices, which would have to be addressed.

Tribal gaming in California began in the late 1990s, when the “rights to gaming on video devices” meant slot machines. The nomenclature can obviously now refer to any video screen, including desktop PCs, laptops, tablets and even smartphones. A declaration of just what is meant by “video devices” will certainly have to be made before all interested parties will understand their rights and responsibilities.

As reported on this website back in May, acting in advance of any possible passage of legalized online poker play in California the United Auburn Indian Community (UAIC) recently entered into a 10 year partnership with Bwin.party Digital Entertainment PLC. Bwin.party is the world’s largest online gaming company listed on a major stock market, and the UAIC owns the popular Thunder Valley Casino in California. Such partnerships would allow the new business entity to forgo arguments over the exact definition of “video devices” if and when they secured an Internet gaming license. In case the previous wording is upheld, that entity would benefit from the UAIC half of their partnership, and in case new terminology is felt to be more suitable, the UAIC could exploit their agreement with one of the largest global players in the world of online gaming.  Learn more about online gambling in the USA at UnitedStatesGamblingOnline.com.

1 Comment

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