1 Million California Online Poker Players Await Legalization

1 Million California Online Poker Players Await LegalizationWith two online poker bills pending in California, powerful Indian tribes remain somewhat divided as to which proposal to support.

Last month, Sen. Lou Correa introduced SB 1366. A virtual rerun of a bill proposed last year, Correa’s new bill will likely garner greater attention since he was recently chosen as chairman of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee.

Overseeing alcohol, horse racing and gambling matters, that committee had previously been chaired by Sen. Rod Wright. Perhaps California’s most ardent supporter of online poker, Wright asked to be removed from the committee after he was found guilty of voter fraud and perjury in January. Found to be residing outside of the district he was elected to represent, Wright seemingly has his hands full with appealing his conviction.

Correa’s proposal has been approved by the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians and the United Auburn Indian Community. It requires a $10 million license fee and allows an unlimited number of online poker websites to be operated by successful applicants. Horse racing interests will not be among those submitting applications, as they have been excluded from participation.

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuila Indians and the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians have thrown their support behind a measure introduced by Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer. Also not permitting racetracks to hold Internet poker licenses, AB 2291 puts limits on the number of poker websites that the state can offer.

Pechanga reportedly feels that placing restrictions on the number of sites operating is crucial. The tribe are among several who remain concerned that online gambling pursuits may jeopardize the current revenue stream enjoyed at land-based casinos. Allowing online poker while disallowing casino games seems to be the lesser of two possible evils in the minds of certain tribal leaders.

California cardrooms, on the other hand, believe that online poker will add revenue in addition to perhaps creating more interest in live poker competition. If marketed correctly, online satellites can draw players to the live cardrooms via satellites. The cardrooms are at peace with either AB 2291 or SB 1366, requesting only equal consideration as that given to tribal concerns.

While the tribes remain divided regarding their support of the separate bills, industry observers are also divided regarding the possible success of an online poker bill in California in 2014. Some prognosticators believe that this being an election year will continue to stymie any likelihood of Internet poker approval, while others point to the fact that the tribes have never been more ready to approve an online poker scheme despite supporting different proposals.

Should either bill advance, extensive discussions and bargaining would be required, casino.org reported. But with roughly 1 million people playing [geolink href=”https://www.usafriendlypokersites.com/california/”]online poker in California[/geolink] and an estimated revenue of over $300 million possible down the road, those negotiations are likely to continue until a law is eventually passed. It may not happen in 2014, but most agree that it will happen some day.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett