California Online Poker Laws

California Online Poker Law

Like a traffic jam on the 405 freeway, legalization of online poker in California is slowly inching along. It might take a year or two, but online poker players in California will be able to play for real money sooner rather than later.

Online poker legalization has been on the lips of legislators for about five years, and multiple bills that would allow poker sites to operate and serve California’s residents have died in committees. Three separate online poker bills were being debated in committees, but none made it to vote before the state’s General Assembly ended the 2013 session. Unless the general Assembly calls a special session, the bills will have to be reintroduced in 2014.

Why three different online poker bills? There are three powerful groups who are fighting for access to California’s gargantuan potential online poker market. Hundreds of millions of dollars annually is at stake. The Indian tribes, the card rooms, and the horse tracks all want their fair share, and each industry has their political supporters.

In California, there are three factions fighting for one giant prize, and until each group gets what they believe is fair, any of the separate bills will find it extremely difficult to gain momentum. So, yes, it will happen: The largest poker market in America will most definitely be tapped.

Unfortunately, once it legalizes online poker, California very well may be inclined not to share its players with other states. This would remove a huge number of players from an interstate poker network that many hope comes to fruition.

Simply put, California is so huge and populous that it may not make financial sense for the state to open up its market to the rest of the U.S. Although it might make sense for California financially, it would be bad news for American online poker players who want to play in tournaments with as many people as possible.

Is Online Poker Coming to California?

It very well may be legalized in 2014. It depends on how fast the card rooms, Indian casinos, and horse tracks want to negotiate with each other. It won’t happen in 2013, though.

California’s Online Poker Consumer Base

At 39 million residents, it’s the largest in the country. California has about 25 million people 21 or older. A marketing firm estimated that about 10 percent of Americans played online poker during its heyday, so about 2.5 million online poker players are left without a game in California.

California is one of the great places in America to play poker, and it is the home to more poker tables in card rooms than any other state. There’s no doubt online poker will thrive there.