San Francisco Chronicle: Legalized Online Gambling Could be Revenue Source for California

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
California Internet Gambling

Should online gambling be legalized in the state of California, the impact would be far greater than legalization in New Jersey.  Last week, NJ Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have made New Jersey the first state to legalize Web gambling. 

Just compare the populations.  New Jersey has close to 8 million residents while California has around 37 million.  That would rank California 34th in terms of world population if it were a country.  The state is considered to have the 8th biggest economy in the world.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on Wednesday just how big an impact legalized Internet gambling, specifically poker, could have on revenues for a state that is in dire need of an economic jolt.

From The Chronicle:

Supporters of online gambling say that the recession - and California's $26.6 billion budget deficit - have improved the prospects of tapping the state's estimated 500,000 online poker players to eventually bring the state $100 million a year in tax revenue and 1,100 to 3,000 new tech-related jobs.

At the same time, a recent survey showed that a strong majority of Californians - 66 percent - would back state regulation and taxation of online poker profits. The survey of 600 voters was done by San Francisco pollster Ben Tulchin for Indian gambling organizations and cardrooms.

"For the first time, I have real hope," said Tom Goldstein, a Washington attorney who has long worked on gaming issues. "I think we'll see either state or federal legislation in the next 18 months."


California is one of a handful of states considering legalizing Internet gambling.  Iowa, Florida, South Carolina and Kentucky are among the states toying with the idea. 

Then there is the federal government, which last year failed to push through legislation drafted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid during the lame duck session of Congress. 

Some have speculated that Christie vetoed the state bill under pressure from casino lobbyists who are more anxious to see federal legislation passed.  Following news of his veto, California Republican Representative John Campbell and Massachusetts Democratic Representative Barney Frank, a long time supporter of legalized Web gambling, announced they would be introducing federal legislation next month to lift current restrictions on the activity. 

California might have a shot of beating federal legislation.  They now have the support of many of the powerful Indian tribes who blocked efforts in the past.

- Christopher Costigan, Publisher

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