With such an incredibly rich history of offering legalized poker play in brick-and-mortar poker rooms around the state, as well as far and away the largest population to draw from for a potential player pool, coupled with crushing debt problems, you would think that online poker legislation in California would pass with flying colors. Unfortunately, that is not the case. California is probably also the only state in the US which could entirely act as a single entity, without having to make multistate deals because their player pool is potentially so large. Many smaller states will have to make multistate partnerships to be able to finance an online poker experience for their citizens and visitors.
But the Golden State, which has been attempting in one way or another to legalize online poker for the last five years, appears ready to let 2012 pass without legalized online poker inside its state boundaries. Nothing is written in stone, and the fact that there is legislation on the table waiting for approval or rejection is a good sign. But with a drop-dead date and legislative deadline of August 31, even California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (co-sponsor of the 2012 California Internet poker Bill SB 1463) says there simply is not enough time left for a reasonable expectation of passage by that deadline.
The Sacramento Bee reported Wednesday that the bill introduced by Senator Rod Wright and Steinberg in February of this year has seen very little to no activity. A June 12 committee hearing was scheduled for the proposed bill, but was canceled at Wright’s request. Obviously, he was looking for a favorable and responsive audience, and without that there was no reason to go ahead with the hearing. The biggest voice in standing against passage of the statewide legalized online poker presence? The powerful California Tribal Business Alliance of Indian tribes.
Owning close to a monopoly on the incredibly lucrative poker and casino business in California, many Indian tribes are totally against any type of online poker playing legislation. But some tribes are actually proponents of the current bill, even though they are in the vast minority. On the other side of poker playing legislation is the California Online Poker Association, consisting of 31 card rooms and 29 Indian tribes, who recently stated in a press release that they do not want a bill to be delayed again, and are looking for passage as soon as possible.
It appears that with no solid consensus 2012 will come and go without seeing legal online poker play in California. But as other states move forward as Nevada and Delaware have, and begin raking in revenue from taxes, fees and licenses generated from online poker, states with pressing debt problems and residents who already play poker online may change their stance. California proposes a one-time fee of $30 million for an online interactive gaming license, and that type of money multiplied times dozens of license holders would be an instant boon to California’s state coffers, and a tax relief to its residents.