California’s Struggles With Online Poker Continues

Legal Online Poker in California Has A Slim Chance

The issue of online gambling continues to be the source of controversy and duel legislation nationally. In recent weeks a congressional bill has been introduced by Texas representative Joe Barton. Bill HR 2888, The Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2015 calls for a regulated national online poker system. It would still make any other forms of online gambling illegal. It would also ban foreign companies with questionable reputations from setting up shop in the United States. Barton thinks his bill would be more effective than the state by state system of allowing or not allowing online poker.

Barton said the bill would provide additional protection for children and problem gamblers.

Although critics believe, due to the upcoming national elections, no online gambling bill has much of a chance of passing any time soon. In the state of California there has been an ongoing battle among conflicting factions over if, or how online poker, and possible other forms of online gambling, should be administrated. Due to population size, and the publicity factor, if online gambling is allowed in the state, it may get the ball rolling in a big way for the rest of the country.

Experts seem to believe there was some progress made among the digging in of factions. On the positive side for those who support online poker, Adam Gray’s Bill, AB 451, passed the Assembly Go and Appropriations Committee. The bill is relatively short on details, they would be filled in later, but in short it would legalize online poker in California. Controls would be put in place in terms of taxes, suitability, and software.

Also, Caesar’s and Pokerstars put aside their differences and joined forces to lobby in favor of online poker. On another front, a group of Native American tribes dropped their opposition to horse racing concerns participating in the process, and to the inclusion of online  gaming giant Pokerstars. Eventually, four ipoker bills were introduced, with none passing of course.

Still, the main issues holding up passage remain, and in some cases, the factions have become even more entrenched. Pokerstars accused the Pechanga land based casino faction of obstructionism, and supporting legislation that would shift matters in their favor., Pechanga and their allies attacked Pokerstars  reputation, and argued against race track interests being allowed to run online poker websites.

To top it off, the Viejas tribe launched an ad campaign targeting the Pokerstars alliance. The ads called the group “internet scam artists and con men.” In radio spots and internet banner ads it urged the public to oppose online poker bill AB 451, As it turned out, the bill did make it through committee.

Pokerstars has launched the Pokerstars pro tour. The tour will be a series of poker tournaments and outreach programs. By having a buy-in of only a couple hundred dollars, the general public will get the chance to play with, and rub shoulders with some of Pokerstars big name pros. The kick off San Diego leg of the tour started at the Palomor Card Club. Pros Jason Somerville and Liv Boeree hosted and played in the tournament.

The somewhat forgotten in all the online gambling hoopla is the general public that would make up the majority of the customers.In a recently conducted a poll of California residents to gauge their interest in legalizing online poker. 1,500 people took part in the survey that was conducted by the respected National Research Institute and Suravanta Inc. The result of the poll, like others done throughout the country, indicated that United States residents favor legalized and regulated online gambling over off shore options. Two key questions were:

Do you want the legislature to pass an online poker bill?

  • 66% said yes

Would you play at an online poker site?

  • 51% said yes

Going into 2016, it doesn’t appear that a bill will pass because all the opposing factions will suddenly see the light and wind up on the same page. If a bill comes to pass it will probably do so by just barely squeezing out the bare minimum amount of co-operation required to make it happen. As for the distant future, I would not fold just yet.

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Jared Bates

I have been working in, and with different casinos for over twenty years, and as such I have seen many things happen to gambling online and offline. From Vegas to Atlantic City, and small places in between, my passion lies with games where I can win money.

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