The online poker community of California was upset to learn that online poker might not be legalized before 2012. The lawmakers of the state were considering two bills to legalize online poker play, but have come across a number of hurdles. In the first place, the federal government is also considering legalization of online poker, and in the second, the Native American tribes in California have exclusive gambling operation rights.

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Two separate bills have been proposed by senators in California. First, Senator Lou Correa proposes that only online poker should be legalized and that providers of online poker services should be located within California, thereby enabling local gambling operators to monopolize online poker. According to Correa, his bill will generate 1,300 new jobs for the state and over $1.4 billion revenue through taxes during the following decade.

Second, Senator Rod Wright proposes that all types of online gambling should be legalized and that only three operators should be issued licenses although operators from outside the state can bid for these licenses.

Since the legislative year ends on September 9, lawmakers in California do not have the time to consider either of these bills; moreover, President Steinberg says that the issues are too complex to be hurried, while simultaneously indicating that the bills might be considered in Jan 2012 when the legislative year begins.

Experts feel that Correa’s bill might be passed because it has the California Online Poker Association’s (COPA) support. COPA is not only launching a number of TV and radio advertisements demanding legalization of online poker, but has also signed a deal with Playtech/SciPlay this June to provide an online poker brand, which will initially provide online poker services for fun, but will then shift to real money poker once the online poker laws in California become favorable.

According to one of COPA’s advertisements: “Unfortunately, nurses, police, fire and services for the poor and disabled will all be cut again if California doesn’t find US$4bn in new revenue by December. There is a solution. By approving online poker, California has the ability to tap US$250m in new money immediately and billions in years to come.”

Simultaneously, not everybody in California is for the legalization and regulation of online poker. Some people are of the opinion that while legalization of online poker will boost the economy of the state, it will also give rise to a number of people with gambling addiction issues.

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