In February of 2008, California Assemblyman Lloyd Levine from Van Nuys introduced a bill to the California legislature that proposed a study of the legality of intrastate online poker. Less than two months later, the California Assembly Governmental Organization Committee (AGOC) unanimously passed it.
Assembly Bill 2026, otherwise known as The Gambling Control/California Intrastate Online Poker Act, has been queued to head to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. If passed there, a full vote will be taken on the bill. The California legislature could see the measure before it as soon as June of 2009.
If passed, the bill would allow the California State Gambling Control Commission to work with the California Department of Justice to perform a study regarding the possible authorization of internet poker for California residents. Despite the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) into law, AB 2026 is possible due to a stipulation in the UIGEA that allows individual states to legalize and regulate intrastate online gaming if they choose to do so.
The organization behind the original introduction of the bill was Poker Players of America (PPOA), and it has agreed to serve as the official sponsor of the legislation. Since the process began, the organization has since changed its name to the Poker Voters of America. Its theme is “Protect your right to play!” and its home page states, in part, “Some politicians in Washington – and in state capitals around the country – continue to attack the rights of millions of America [sic] who play poker online and millions more who play poker live… But now, some enlightened political leaders around the country, supported by Poker Voters of America, are trying to remedy this dangerous situation by legalizing online poker as the best way to protect players – and our right to play.”
As AB 2026 heads to its next step on the legislative ladder, Levine continues to push it through. He said, “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.”
And if the bill is looked upon favorably, Levine is prepared to see it evolve into actual online poker legalization. “It’s a study bill while we work out the details, but we might put some teeth into it if it looks like we can do this.”