California’s card clubs may currently be in a battle against the tribes of the state, but what exactly has happened to its online poker scene? In actual fact, California has been trying to legalise the activity for over 10 years but hasn’t really seen much success with any of it. Factions rallying for it to be made legal within the state just don’t seem to be able to put things in action for a long enough time period to be able to get a bill passed there.
While some US states have gained traction regarding online poker – and some have even legalised it, such as Pennsylvania – California doesn’t seem to have advanced, but instead is more likely to have gone backwards. It seems to have reached a point where players in The Golden State have just given up on believing that it will become a legalised pastime.
California has a population of around 40 million people, which means that if it did have an online poker setup, it could very well match those of other countries, rather than just those of other US states. Yet, could the size of it be operating against it? Potentially so, when you consider how many tribal casinos, card rooms and other gambling operations the state already has. An online poker bill would need to satisfy conditions for all of these, making it difficult for such to be passed.
Could these issues be the reason why California hasn’t been able to get a bill through legislation?
California Gaming Association Speaks Out
It seems as though the California Gaming Association (CGA) is ready to place all the blame on the state’s tribal communities. The president of the CGA, Kyle Kirkland offered up a statement recently that said while “California is home to more online poker players” than anywhere else in the world, tribal gaming advocates from some locations couldn’t reach any sort of agreement regarding online poker and its regulation.
Yet, one of the tribal strategists, Victor Rocha has spoken out against the PokerStars platform, firmly pointing the finger. He said that due to the brand being so arrogant and ignorant, they ended up messing things up for the online poker scene in California. “They thought they could drive a wedge between the tribes…”, he said, before stating that the chairman of the Pechanga tribe halted the process of PokerStars before they could muscle in.
With so many conflicting opinions and interests regarding online poker, is it any wonder that little has been done to legalise the industry within California?
Talking of the failure in California, former member of the California Gambling Control Commission Richard Shuetz said that there are two main reasons for poker not being legalised. One of them is the different goals of stakeholders, while the other is special interests monetizing the issue. Three main beneficiaries within Sacramento were involved in the push for online gaming and poker – lawyers, legislators and lobbyists. And while they convinced the operators that a strong potential is there for online gaming in California, Shuetz remains with the mindset that it was “all a myth”.