In early June of 2012 the California Senate’s Policy Committee began debating whether to allow state-regulated online gambling. There have been rumors up until now that various proposals (including poker-only e-gaming run by the state).
Since this is one of the largest states in the USA (equal or larger than many European nations that allow online gambling) its adoption of cash-stakes casino entertainment will be a game-changer in a country just now negotiating with this new freedom.
It is the freedom to entertain oneself by betting, and in so doing possibly losing and/or multiplying one’s money. In a country known as an entertainment leader, there is something odd about most of America’s prohibition on things like web-based poker (despite the numerous land-based casinos operating legally).
Strangely, for the very superpower country responsible for much of the borderless Web’s development, American states are forced by the lack of a federal pro online-gambling law to try to delimit the Internet within particular states’ lines. Any state like California must ensure that its online gambling does not gain access by residents of neighboring states that don’t allow it.
California’s main competition for this new Internet market so far is:
• Nevada/Las Vegas – online gaming licenses already approved
• Washington DC – trying to adopt its iGaming project
• New York State – ended cases against Full Tilt/PokerStars
• Illinois/Chicago – influenced federal review of anti-gaming policy
A big advantage that California holds against smaller or less glamourous states is the fact that it already pulls in bountiful numbers of tourists. And ironically, if it wants to not only adopt online gambling but also make it most profitable (that is, reaching out beyond the limited amount resident players), California must attract visitors who will play its web-based real-cash games during their stays.
Currently, California is home to numerous Native-American Indian tribal casinos, which a special legal right to do business. The new gambling law, the ‘Consumer Protection and Public-Private Partnership Act of 2012’, spells disaster for these. They had an exclusive right to purvey ‘video’ gambling, which has since come to include computer and mobile games. This new law will erode that advantage, so the tribes are fighting it.
One Californian tribe has already signed a ten-year contract with the world’s largest Internet casinos, Bwin.party. The tribal casino can see the tide coming in, which is the seemingly unstoppable appeal of Internet gambling, and it is preparing to play on this new equal playing field and chalk up its previous advantage.
If California does use online gambling revenues to save its slumped, indebted state finances, we expect a tempered, cautious approach. Two years ago, another bill to legalize gambling failed — but a lot has happened in two years. Excited yet? Read our review of bingo palace, one of the premier US bingo sites.