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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

California Bill to Study Intrastate Online Poker

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A bill has been introduced into the California legislature that proposes a study of the legality of intrastate online poker. AB2026 is being sponsored by the Poker Players of America (PPOA) and was introduced by California Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, a Democrat from Van Nuys.

The purpose of the bill asses the viability of regulated online poker within the state of California without running into the road blocks established by the UIGEA. With all of the poker rooms, card clubs, and Indian casinos spread across the vast state, online poker could bring the state much needed revenue and be quite a profitable endeavor.

Levine noted, “Our understanding of the law is that so long as the player and server (hosting the online game) are in California, it would be legal. But that’s what we are trying to find out… We don’t know what the state’s piece will be, but it will be a regulated entity.”

The organization behind Levine’s proposal is the PPOA, of which not much is known. The website states, “PPOA is the first independent national organization of American of (sic) of poker players dedicated to ONE THING – protecting our right to play online and in live games. That right is under increasing attack by the Federal government and misguided politicians everywhere. Founded and guided by experienced political professionals who also play poker, PPOA has been created to provide information, mobilization and coordination of legislative/political action programs necessary to make the voices of America’s millions of poker players heard in Washington.”

As far as can be determined, no famous professional poker players are known members or backers of the organization, but their intentions seem to mimic that of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) as a lobbying group.

Levine recognizes that intrastate online poker would be tricky, as a number of card clubs and Indian casinos would want part of the action. In addition, regulation would be of the utmost importance since players would have to be identified as California residents. And California has designated poker as a Class 2 game, one that only allows players to compete against each other instead of the house, so the governor would have to control all decisions made regarding the implementation and regulation of online poker.

Levine notes that if the legislature reacts positively to the bill, it could evolve into an online poker legalization bill. “It’s a study bill while we work out the details,” he said. “But we might put some teeth into it if it looks like we can do this.”

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