California might be the next state in the US to legalize online poker, as a bill was introduced on Monday in Sacramento by Assemblyman Mike Gatto. The bill would allow tribes and card rooms located in California acquire a license, along with technology partners, affiliates and other necessary partners to acquire it as well.
It is believed that a massive 2.5 million people in California plays poker on a regular basis, currently doing it in casino's, card rooms or in overseas poker rooms. By legalizing poker in the state, the state could receive huge amounts of money in taxes instead of those money going abroad.
“The status quo is a lost opportunity. California could receive significant revenue for merely regulating and legitimizing an industry that Californians already participate in but send their dollars overseas.” Gatto said in a statement released on Tuesday.
The bill has been named “Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2015” and has a legal and technical framework and would make it legal to play poker within the borders of California, intrastate only. Poker licenses would be awarded for 10 years of operation at a time and there will be plenty of licenses for companies to purchase.
It is uncertain if Pokerstars will be allowed back into California, due to their previous “bad actor” status in the state. The wording in the bill isn't exact and it is expected that Pokerstars will do whatever they can to gain access to this huge market. Should the bill be accepted, then it takes 180 days before online poker could potentially be live in the state.
While all of this sounds good on paper, there is one huge problem in this bill and that is that they expect players to go physically to a centre and register, deposit and withdraw. By requiring this, poker sites would need to set up tons of centres or do partner centres around California to have a chance of gaining traffic, which could easily make the players continue to play on overseas sites.
Besides becoming a big cost for the sites, it would also eliminate a big part of the recreational player pool who would sit on a Friday night at home and make a quick deposit to play. Furthermore it wouldn't make much sense to have to go to a centre to deposit and cash out every time, then you might as well go play poker in a casino or card room instead.