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California Online Poker Law to Protect Residents

Assemblyman Lloyd Levine Says Protection is Main Issue


The proposed California law that would be the first step toward allowing online poker rooms in California made it through its first committee, and its sponsor, Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, hopes to see it lead to a law that would give the residents of his state a place to play online poker regulated by a governmental party in the United States.

The proposed law, which is the first of its kind in the nation on a state level, calls for the California Gaming Commission and the Attorney General’s Office to study the issues concerning “regulatory oversight and licensing, technological issues, underage and problem gambling matters, methods of play and types of games that may be legally offered, economic benefits to state and local governments, and the means by which those games and forms of gambling may be conducted and operated.”

Protecting California residents, Levine says, is the impetus driving his proposal.

“There’s obviously a huge poker boom in the United States right now,” Levine said. “A law like mine is needed to provide protection for California online poker players in light of federal legislation that forces poker players to offshore gaming.”

His proposal, which made it through the senate governmental organization committee by a vote of 6 to 1, also calls for the AG’s office to figure out if regulating intrastate online poker would violate the Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Levine thinks that they’ll come to the conclusion that it won’t, because the UIGEA doesn’t clearly address the issue of intrastate gambling.

Obviously, Levine doesn’t agree with the UIGEA.

“To do what they did just flies in the face of reality. You cannot prohibit people from playing online. It just doesn’t work that way,” he said.

The money the state would get from online poker is another reason why it should be allowed there, Levine said. A conservative estimate done by the cardrooms says that about $1 million a year would be generated from the new enterprise of online poker.

He envisions the state eventually licensing online operators that must be located there. The front-running candidates are the state’s cardrooms and Indian casinos.

So, there’s a chance that California residents, maybe as soon as 2010, will be able to play against other Californians in the online cardrooms of the Bicycle Club, the Hustler, Hollywood Park, and even sites like the Turlock Poker Room, Caps Saloon, and Mortimer’s (all three represent the smaller cardrooms in California).

Levine doesn’t really know if his colleagues will get behind him if the results of the study are positive regarding online gaming, but he’s pleased with making it through the first committee. His proposal now sits in the appropriations committee and will undergo further study.

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