Is California Next United States Gambling Online Industry Participant?

Less than 24 hours before the session deadline for introduction of new bills in California, two pieces of legislation quickly appeared. The two proposals concerned getting online poker, and possibly other forms of Internet gambling, legalized in the Golden State. With a very historic and rich physical poker room history, California has surprisingly shot down multiple attempts in the past by both government and tribal leaders that would legalize online poker. However, there are a couple of substantial reasons to believe that these newly proposed Internet poker packages might have a decent chance of passage – government proponents and Indian tribal support.

The current United States online gambling picture includes just three states, as far as delivery by US-based companies goes. Offshore poker rooms, sportsbooks and casinos still legitimately provide legally licensed virtual wagering options to US residents. But after years of watching literally billions of cyber gambling dollars leave the United States, the Department of Justice has decided to provide each individual US state with the legal go-ahead to either outlaw or certify online gambling options. One huge caveat is that if a state decides to support Internet poker or casinos, players must be located within that state’s physical boundaries to participate.

Considering that California is both the largest and most populous state, that DOJ location-based gambling qualifier would easily make California immediately the most important player in the United States online gambling industry, if and when they join. And since one of the two recently submitted proposals is supported by both California legislators and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, that revised reintroduction of a former California Internet poker bill could have a legitimate shot at passage. Senate Bill number 678 was originally supported by that recognized and powerful Indian tribe as well as California lawmakers, but garnered little support across the state.

That virtual poker proposal has been revamped and resubmitted as Senate Bill number 1366. State Senator Lou Correa, a Democrat from the 34th district, offered the original SB 678, and it is assumed that he is the sponsor of this bill as well. The second legal packet proposing online poker in the state is Assemblyman Bill 2291. That has been introduced by a Democrat from the 59th District in California, Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer. Also displaying two very positive factors for possible passage, AB 2291 is supported by Indian tribes as well as government legislators. In this second most recent Internet poker proposal, a diverse and large number of state-recognized Indian tribes have decided to add their influence in the hopes of getting it passed.

The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians, the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, the Barona Band of Mission Indians, Agua Caliente Band Cahuilla Indians, the Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Indians and the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians totally support AB 2291. Passage of either one of those pieces of legislation would make California just the fourth participant in the US online gambling industry, but easily the most powerful. Pennsylvania is pushing hard to beat California to the punch in joining Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada in the young but growing Internet gambling marketplace in the United States. There are an additional eight states which also have some type of pro-gambling online legislation presently awaiting passage.