California Internet Gaming Update

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On the last possible day for bills to be introduced in 2013, Friday, February 22, Senator Correa introduced Senate Bill 678 to legalize online poker in California. SB 678 appears to be a “spot” placeholder bill while the language of regulating and legalizing Internet poker is negotiated between the interested stakeholders.

This is the second online gaming legislation pending in the state. Earlier this year, Senator Wright introduced Senate Bill 51 for licensing online poker in California. SB 51 is almost identical to last year’s Senate Bill 1463, containing only minor edits and later dates of enactment.

After the Department of Justice’s December 2011 memoranda opinion that the Federal Wire Act only applies to sport-related gambling activities, states now have the symbolic green light to do what they want with Internet gaming. Last year, Delaware became the first state to pass legislation allowing gambling through the Internet. Just recently, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed Assembly Bill 114 allowing the Silver State to form interstate compacts with other regulated states. Similarly, New Jersey is expected to hold a special legislative session tomorrow, February 26, 2013, to pass the conditionally vetoed Assembly Bill 2578.

There appears to be a greater sense of optimism that some form of online gambling legislation in California will pass this session, despite the failure of similar measures in previous years. It seems the question is not if, but rather how online gaming will be legalized in the Golden State.