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Online Poker Bill Introduced in California

Feb 27, 2012
Author: Michael Mancini
Online Poker Bill Introduced in California

After failing to make progress on the issue in 2011, California legislators are once again pushing to regulate online poker in the most populous state in the USA.

The latest effort was introduced by State Senators Darrell Steinberg and Roderick Wright on Friday. Known as the Internet Gambling Consumer Protection and Pubic-Private Partnership Act of 2012 (or SB 1463 for short), it would allow operators to apply for 10-year licenses to operate online gambling sites.

Exactly what online gambling would be allowed under these licenses isn’t yet clear. However, the bill does state that at least for the first two years, only poker would be allowed. After that time, it’s possible that the state may expand regulations to allow for other games to be played.

In order to keep these licenses, operators would have to pay licensing fees of $30 million. These feels would be credited against the gross revenues generated by these sites over the first three years, essentially making the fees a prepayment of the taxes operators would pay on their revenues.

Some may remember Senator Wright as being an important player in previous efforts to create an online poker framework in California. Previously, Wright’s bills had lost momentum before being considered by the entire California Senate. However, legislators favoring the proposal are hoping that the recent reevaluation of the Wire Act will quell some fears over the legality of an intrastate online poker network.

The biggest battle for this legislation could come from California’s many Native American tribes who currently operate casinos in the state. While some tribes have partnered with many of the state’s poker rooms to push for online poker legislation, others fear that any online gambling network would be dominated by larger casino groups.

Should California pass SB 1463 or similar legislation, they could become just the second state to form a regulated online poker network in their state. Neighboring Nevada has already passed regulations to do just that, though it is unclear when online poker will first be offered in the state.

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