Gaming interests should put behind rivalry and unite forces to allow state licenses to be granted with a wide variety of consumer choice and which would bring in revenue for the state.
Poker has been legal in California for over a century so what’s taking Congress so long to veto four bills to allow the legalization of Internet poker legal in the state? This is an issue that has been talked about in probably every single US poker room, however the issue remains just that, a subject for debate.
• The 4 bills lagging are the Assembly Bill 9, AB 167, AB 431 and Senate Bill 278
• 15 million Americans engage in real-money online poker but on foreign sites
• Online poker market could generate $845 million
According to Anita Lee who studies gambling policies for the Legislative Analyst’s Office, one of the biggest barriers for California stopping the legalization of the internet poker in the state is the existence of so many illegal online poker sites in US which causes all kinds of problems.
No headway since 2009
Lee says caution is required so as not to have players fleeing to illicit sites because of a bad case of over-regulation. She continues by saying “If you’re choosing between player experiences you’re likely to go with the experience that’s easier to manage, easier to figure out, has less sign-ins or registrations and things like that”.
Online poker policies will have to include which operators can offer poker on their sites. Lee also referred to the complication involved when the system of tribal gaming in California is taken into account as they are also taking part in the in online poker debates, alongside card room operators and the horse racing who also want to join in.
Lee points out that “in other states that have gambling, for example Nevada and New Jersey, their licensees are extensions of the individuals who have brick and mortar facilities. We don’t have the same thing that they do”. Perhaps that is why even after 6 years of debate and discussion, no headway has been made.
Nevertheless, California needs to take a stance sooner rather than later in order to veto on the bill to authorize and regulate Internet poker. For sure if online poker was legalized, millions of poker players in the state would be happy.
Millions of Americans play online poker in the closet
However, if California fails to veto now this would mean that it and most states, would never again be able to make a stance on this albeit important consumer issue, whereby players could benefit from a competitive market to choose from a wide array of operators.
That’s because, Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who donates millions of dollars to the conservative party has been lobbying to have Congress throw out any bills that concern online internet gambling in US including poker. However anti-poker lobbyists like Adelson simply aren’t being realistic.
He wants states to be forbidden ‘to authorize, regulate and tax Internet poker within their own borders’ once and for all. Adelson, of course may not be able to get enough votes to have a federal ban enforced but being a big-spender makes it easy to coerce state legislators. So it is actually up to them to defend the rights of its citizens and if Americans want to play online poker, legally of course, then let them.
Poker Players Alliance claims that more than 15 million Americans play real-money online poker and among them, guess who plays? Californians, but on illegal foreign sites, where operators are infringing on US gambling laws and thus millions consumers play under no protection nor regulation at all.
Legislators – stop jabbering land pass the bill
Only by saying yes and regulating Internet poker in California can punters be guaranteed security and safety. Needless to say that other states and countries manage well-regulated online poker sites that allow players to be protected from fraud and conspiracy. Also legal poker playing online guards against underage playing and helps people with gambling addiction to refrain from over-spending in any one online casino.
Illegal online poker sites do not need to be held accountable for things like ethics while a regular legal site would be. So tribes, card rooms, race tracks, labor unions, online poker operators need to unite their forces to get the bill going before it is too late.
For, authorizing and regulating Internet poker would allow state governments to collect tax revenues that is going into the treasure chest of offshore economies. A coalition of California tribes presented an analysis that ‘a legal and licensed intrastate online poker market could generate $845 million for state government and more than 2,600 new jobs within five years’.
So, in the six years that California has been debating this issue about who should be licensed, whose interest will be served and what exactly exactly should Legislature define, billions of dollars could already have been in circulation from online poker profits to inject into education and health care and employment.
Legislators should realize the importance of online poker in California but should leave it up to regulators at the California Department of Justice and the California Gambling Control Commission, to determine which participants are important.