Will California Offer Intrastate Poker Before Nevada?

February 26, 2013

In the race to become the first state to legalize US online poker, California is once again in the running. California State Senator Lou Correa introduced Senate Bill 678 last week, formally the Authorization and Regulation of Internet Poker and Consumer Protection Act of 2013. SB 678 attempts to change California’s current gambling laws to allow online poker sites to operate from within the state. If passed, the bill would also give the California Gambling Control Commission the authority to set up a regulatory system to provide licensing to online poker sites to serve California residents.

What’s different about this bill is that it is very simple. At only two pages long, it doesn’t outline the regulatory systems, but merely allows the CGCC to establish them. On the other hand, Senator Roderick Wright’s SB 51, the Internet Gambling Consumer Protection and Public-Private Partnership Act of 2013, which was introduced last December, is 51 pages long and goes over every facet of the process, from regulation to legalization and everything in between. In this bill, the CGCC would be able to approve sites for licensure for five years with a one-time fee of $30 million that would pay into California’s General Fund.

Marked as an “urgency statute,” SB51 would immediately become law with just two-thirds votes. It has been waiting since January 10 of this year for further action in the Senate Governmental Organization Committee.

As the most populated state in the US with an estimated 35 million residents, California stands to contribute a fairly large populace to the intrastate online poker market should multiple states regulate and work out a network agreement so that residents of one intrastate Internet poker regulated state can play at those online poker sites of other intrastate regulated states. This will help saturate a market that may otherwise not have enough players within one state to sustain an intrastate poker economy. Other states looking to legalize and regulate intrastate online poker are Nevada, the 35th largest state with a population of 2.8 million and Delaware, the 45th largest population in the US with not even one million residents, so California would add a considerable amount of players to the mix, making it a completely different market.


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