California Online Poker Bill Launched


Wright bill seeks a legalised and regulated intra-state dispensation

Senator Rod Wright's recent promises to introduce a Californian bill legalising and regulating online poker were met this week when he launched an amended version of bill SB 1485 late on Friday.

Wright leads a California Senate Committee responsible for gambling matters, and the bill seeks to introduce an intrastate solution to the problems of what to do about online poker...and how to generate tax revenues in the process.

SB 1485 proposes that the California Department of Justice award up to three five-year contracts to California-based operators to run online poker websites for state residents. Observers note that the bill has marked differences from earlier proposals put together by commercial card rooms and the Morongo tribal band which sought to secure exclusivity through a single California poker site run by a partnership of tribes and card rooms.

Senator Wright has flagged the bill as urgent, enabling its immediate implementation if successful in the legislature and on the Governor's imprimatur.

Observers note that with a budget deficit now nearing $19 billion, there is a powerful incentive for legislators to vote the bill in.

The Wright bill is the latest of several unsuccessful attempts in California to legalise online poker, and joins similar initiatives in the states of Florida and New Jersey, which are also debating legalised intrastate internet gambling.

The UIGEA, which comes into effect Tuesday this week, recognises the authority of individual states to decide on how intrastate gambling is to be handled, and what is and is not illegal. The implementation of the UIGEA federal legislation should therefore not complicate the passage of the bill, although it will probably make the work of the banking system, which is required to enforce the federal act, more difficult in regards to blocking 'illegal' transactions should SB 1485 succeed.

By a quirk of coincidence, SB 1485 will appear before California legislators on Tuesday 1 June 2010 - the same day on which the UIGEA regulations take effect.

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