What are the Chances for California Online Poker in 2019?

Another year has passed without us seeing any progress in California achieving its dream of a legal online poker industry. It is now more than a decade that poker players in the Golden State has been pushing to fulfill this objective with no success.  And while many are hopeful that 2019 will see a change to the status-quo, especially with so many other states going ahead with the expansion of their own online gambling industries, others are convinced that California will continue treading water this year as well.

Why is it so difficult for California to move forward when it comes to online poker? After all, we are talking about a potentially lucrative industry, considering that the state’s population is three times larger than the combined population of Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada – three states that have already established legal and regulated online poker.

Its size, however, is probably what is holding California back. There are simply too many stakeholders who want to grab a part of this elusive industry and the irony is that nobody is getting anything out of it.

Everyone seems to be blaming everyone else. When asked to give a statement to OPR, the president of the California Gaming Association, Kyle Kirkland, says that California is home to more online poker players than anywhere else in the world, and the state was offered an opportunity to generate safe and legal online gaming and also much needed tax money.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “some tribal gaming advocates could not reach agreement on how online poker would be administered and regulated. As a result, legislators moved on to focus on other priorities.”

“In effect, these conflicting self-interests in California’s tribal gaming community resulted in the loss of safe, regulated entertainment, well-paying jobs, and millions in tax revenue that would have benefited all Californians.”

Another one to shed some light is Richard Schuetz, an industry expert who once served with the California Gambling Control Commission.

He explained that there are three gaming interests in California: The tracks, the card rooms and the tribal casino interests.

“Any of these groups can slow down or stop a gaming initiative,” he said.

The bottom line is that the tribal casinos are powerful enough to stop any advancement in online poker legislation as they see it as a threat to their own monopoly on the state’s gambling industry.

It remains to be seen whether we will see any breakthrough in 2019.

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