California Needs Poker


With several other states already looking at legalising certain forms of gambling, Californians now eagerly await to find out if they will also see new regulations concerning the online industry. It is a big issue in the state, as it is estimated that residents already spend a total of somewhere around $300 million a year on online video poker games – with much of that money going to overseas companies that allow players from the United States. With no American legalisation, there can be no taxes collected on the winnings of the casinos, so all of the money pours straight into their coffers instead of going back to the government and allowing them to spend it on public sectors and improvements. Imagining that a ban stops any bets in the USA is naive at best.

For more than four years, lawmakers in California have been debating the merits of legalising online poker playing, but at every turn they have been met and matched by native American gambling interests. Just last week, a new proposal put forward by state Senators Roderick Wright and Darrell Steinberg was due to go under a vote that had been scheduled in advance, with spectators lining up to hear whether it was finally time for California to move into an acceptance of the internet age. Unfortunately, however, a Senate committee sidelined the proposal right before the vote was due to take place, leading to a mass exodus of disappointed citizens and headlines across the country.

What is clear now is that something must be done. With so many people playing illegally, the ban must either be put into force much better or – in the best interests of the state – removed entirely. With all the tribal interference happening at the moment, however, nothing is getting done – so someone needs to move decisively. The thing is that the tribes need not lose out from Wright’s bill – it would allow them to also operate online poker games based out of their existing casinos, with the stipulation that rigorous checks would need to be done and a license fee be paid. Standing at $30 million upfront this may put off some gambling firms – but it is no higher than that proposed in most other states currently; only Nevada is looking at a much lower fee, but with California only asking for ten per cent of their gross earnings in taxes it looks like a fair deal. Californians want to be betting in poker, and make no mistake – they will do it whether it is legal or not.