Senator Rod Wright, author of SB 1485 which seeks to legalize online poker in California, surprised everyone by stalling the bill in the Legislature temporarily. The decision came on Tuesday – the same day that the bill was scheduled to come up for vote.
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Wright added that the bill needed “a lot of work” and he still had some concerns about it in its present form. He was also concerned that the objections posed by opponents of the bill would not see SB 1485 through the vote. “For every issue, there were people who liked it and people who hated it,” he said.
Objections came from a number of parties, including the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, and even from the Poker Players Alliance itself – usually a backer of any legislation that calls for the legalization of online poker.
The Indian Gaming Association claimed that the bill would endanger jobs in California, especially among local communities which tended to employ a higher proportion of its residents in the gambling industry.
The PPA, in a formal opposition letter, feared the clause in the bill that would make it a crime for Californian residents to play at unauthorized, offshore gambling poker sites.
“Criminalizing harmless recreational conduct that typically takes place in the privacy of one’s home and cannot be practically enforced undermines public respect for all laws,” said the PPA.
Nevertheless, Wright believes that the introduction of online poker has more advantages than disadvantages for the state, particularly since the game had the potential of generating $2.1 billion a year to help balance out the growing $19 billion deficit.
“The world isn’t standing still while we figure out what to do,” said Wright. “The longer we wait, the more difficult it will become to get that business back to the state as different outlets of gambling become unavailable and more entrenched.”