California wants online poker legalized and they need online poker legalized to help pay the bills.
But for once maybe, the state legislature wants to sit back and “do things right”.
That will happen after they return from a three-month vacation. Yes, this is the state that is dead broke and the state legislators get to take a three month vacation.
This was one of the year's most expensive lobbying fights in the legislature. But amid a heated last-minute push in the final weeks of session, Senate President Darrell Steinberg released a letter that basically said: Chill out - let's take our time and do this right next year. Democratic Senator Rod Wright is one of the lawmakers working on the issue. He says the state could get hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue if it legalized, regulated and taxed online gaming.
Wright: "Right now, we don't get squat. So absolutely, we're losing out."
Ben: "The only way you get anything is if a California taxpayer is honest about their online poker winnings."
Ben: "Which happens approximately what percent of the time?
Wright: "I don't know, probably zero-point-zero-zero."
But Wright says figuring out how to regulate and monetize online gaming in California is really difficult because of all the card players at the table.
Wright: "The horse-racing people believe they should get a carve-out. The tribes - many of them think it should just be theirs exclusively, without any tax, and it should just be granted to them by fiat. It's a challenge."
Wright says he hopes to see a bill introduced in the next couple months and passed by the time lawmakers adjourn next summer. The bill would cover not just poker but all online gaming. As for what the regulatory setup would look like, Wright says lawmakers and interest groups are still working that out.
- Ace King, Gambling911.com