California Denies Online Poker—Legally

Online poker has had a rough time in the United States. Many states have blocked all online gambling, including poker. Some states have succumbed to allowing it, while others have been in a decade or more extended fight. California is the latter. The state has undergone various votes and suggestions on making online gambling legal. However, February 16, 2018, seems to be a day that says

“no.”

State legislators seem to have quelled discussion of legalizing gambling in California, at least for this year and perhaps the next. In 2016, it looked like Adam Gray might win enough support to bring online gaming to the state, but bill AB 2863, with the backing of the horse racing community, did not get enough approval.

Gray’s bill was brought back into peoples’ minds with the tribal interests of California. The tribes in California do not want to expand to online gambling as it would hurt their revenues. They have so far been lucky to suppress the increase in gaming revenue with online options.

Another thing holding the bill back is a difference between state and federal support. Even if the state decided to vote in the bill and change casinos to allow online play—the fed would have to approve. The tribes are willing to stop this from happening, including going to court to block such a situation.

Gray has given up for now. State legislators have enough going on with cardrooms not run by the tribes. The tribes believe these places are operating illegally and are asking the legislators to look into it and stop them. They want better regulations in place.

Cardroom Disputes for Six Years

For the last six years, the tribes have been trying to get more regulation in California to prevent other places from operating poker rooms. Lawmakers think a lawsuit may be in the works, which does not leave them time to consider online gaming options. Bo Mazzetti, who runs the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, is trying to get more tribes involved in a lawsuit against the state for allowing cardrooms to operate.

In an announcement, Poker Players Alliance said they do not have the financial ability to lobby for online poker or to continue fighting the tribes. Poker enthusiasts do not have a backer who can go to the state and fed to legalize online gaming. California players may be stuck with tribal-led casinos for the near future.

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