Will California Be The Next State To Legalize Online Poker?

27 February 2013

Everyone seems to have an opinion about online poker these days. Some, as we’re hearing about in California, can even vote about it.

Last Friday, Senator Lou Correa introduced Senate Bill 678, the latest effort to throw weight behind an online poker bill in California. This hot debate has already been warm for some time, especially given the state’s budget crisis, the fact that it is home to the nation’s top tribal gaming industry, and also contains 38 million people (aka a garden ripe with online gamers).

This isn’t the first bill that has generated steam in California. In fact, it’s the second bill in as many as three months and the third one in three years. California Senator Roderick Wright introduced SB1463 in February 2012 and another, SB 51, in December 2012 to mixed reviews (it is currently sitting in committee).

The official text of newest proposed California online poker bill has yet to be released. According to CaliforniaOnlinePoker.com and other sources, SB 678 would identify a legal framework for online poker and then leave the rest of the regulatory details to the California Gaming Commission.

Since we don’t know how what the rest of SB 678 is about, we can only lay the groundwork to how it compares to the other outstanding California poker bill. SB 51, also known as the Internet Gambling Consumer Protection and Public-Private Partnership Act of 2013, proposes the following:

  • Only online poker within the state’s borders would be legalized.
  • A 10% tax on gross revenue from cash game fees and tournament rakes.
  • Players would be required to provide their social security number and date of birth to determine both eligibility and tax information. The state would be informed of player activity (wins and losses) regardless of whether the player qualified for tax forms.
  • Online poker players would be required to pay income tax on any winnings, including a 5% tax on qualified net tournament wins.
  • It requires all operators to hold funds in segregated accounts and provide responsible gambling programs and features, including a program that would notify players how long they had been playing, how much they had won or loss during their session, and players would have to confirm they had seen their session stats in order to keep playing.
  • Player-friendly options, like multi-table play and player to player transfers would be allowed.

SB51 also allows for interstate player pools that would allow the state government to enter into online gambling compacts with other states. Compacts could extend international with the federal government’s approval. For more information about CA Senate Bill 51, read it here.

Once SB 678 is released for public perusal, we’ll be happy to break it down for you. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: To answer the title’s question, No. New Jersey won that slot when Governor Christie signed the bill into action on February 26th, 2013.

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