With print newspapers all around the United States in danger of going under in the face of online instant information, many smart newspaper institutions are offering surveys and polls to their readers to get them more involved. To that end, the Los Angeles times asked their readers recently if they supported legalized online poker play in California. After the United States Department of Justice late last year reversed their opinion on the legality of online poker play in the US, each individual state now has the ability to legislate and regulate the online poker play laws for their citizens.
And since tens of millions of Americans play poker online currently, the financial boon to the individual states in these times of economic turmoil can not be understated. Simply on licensing fees alone, a state like California (with a population of 38 million as of July 2011) could instantly shore up ailing government coffers. And that doesn’t even include the positive impact provided by the thousands of jobs which legalized online poker play could provide to California, a state like many of the United States is experiencing drastically higher unemployment currently. Also, the poker players themselves would experience a higher level of peace of mind and safety, knowing the online casinos that they frequented were being regulated and policed at the local level.
While the amount of participation from a single newspaper poll can not be taken as the “be all, end all” of any argument, the response to the Los Angeles Times online poker survey showed a coin flip state of mind. 47% said they supported the idea of online poker in California, with the provision that the state legislators could guarantee that at least $200 million each year would go to education, public safety and other public programs. The LA Times survey advised the poll takers that legalized online poker in their state had the potential to generate massive cash revenues there. Similarly, around half of the respondents opposed the spread of Internet gambling to California, with their number one concern being that young people would become addicted.
When the fact that most online poker players spend their time garnering their news from online sources rather than print newspaper publications like the Los Angeles Times is taken into account, one can make the argument that the applicable data pool was not used for this poll. And in defense of that argument, growing support for the legislation of legalized online poker in California has been spotted in recent months. That state recently passed the Internet Gambling Consumer Protection and Public-Private Partnership Act of 2012, which aside from being a mouthful of a title hopes to be the initial act which gets Californians legal online poker play sooner than later.
With a massive deficit currently sitting at $16 billion, California’s state budget crisis is nearing disastrous proportions. While there are no guarantees as to how many people in California currently play online poker, sending their money to some offshore establishment, it is the most populous state in the US, and brick-and-mortar poker rooms are prevalent. Nearby Nevada recently passed legislation allowing its citizens to legally play online poker, and is said to be selling their first online poker licenses in the next 30 to 60 days. California Gaming Commissioner Richard Schuetz praised Nevada for becoming the first state to pass legislation allowing its residents to play poker online, but says California is “the sleeping giant” in the online poker scenario in the United States, and could easily supplant Nevada as the leading authority in legalized online poker in the US due to its massive population advantage. Phil Hellmuth, while certainly not an economic expert, is easily one of the biggest names in poker, and he recently stated his opinion about California online poker. He said, “It’s going to be huge,” and then referenced the often heard estimate that revenues from California online poker alone would generate more income than Italy’s entire gross domestic product.