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California Battling Tribes to Legalise Online Poker

Online Poker in America has always been popular despite its illegality and at last some states are trying to make progress on legislation to legalise the game, however, their efforts are being continuously hampered by opposition from Indian tribal gambling interests.

California is one of many states attempting to put online poker legislation in place whilst facing continual opposition from Indian tribes

California is an excellent example of the current problem. State Senator Roderick Wright put forward a bill proposing the legalization of online poker which was pulled in mid-June because of opposition from a number of tribal organizations. Due to the opposition State Senator Roderick Wright said that there is less than a 50-50 chance that it will be passed this session.

The bill would allow a number of organisations, such as tribes with state gambling compacts, card clubs, horse tracks and websites that take best on horse races, to run poker games online after they had been overseen by state regulators for a minimum of three years. Any organisations would have to pay the state $30 million upfront as a license fee as well as 10% of their gross earnings.

Whilst some tribes are backing the bill others are objecting to the exclusion of tribes without state compacts. Many are arguing that racetracks have no experience in poker, unlike tribal casinos and card clubs. Others are arguing that legalising online poker will threaten the revenue and jobs created by tribal gambling.

Furthermore, many tribes are saying that they have already undergone extensive background checks and investigations in connection with gambling on their lands and that there is no reason to exclude them from offering online poker games.

It seems a great shame that the bill raised such a large amount of opposition as at present there are thousands of Californians playing poker with no protection against online scams and cheats. There is clearly a need to a regulated system which address consumers concerns and supervisors those who offer online poker. Hopefully further progress can be made on this bill and it will be passed in the near future.

OCA News Editor