Legal California Online Poker Rooms?

California Legal Online PokerThe passing of the UIGEA in October of 2006 effectively put a damper on the growth rate in the online poker industry. Now, according to a story in the Capitol Weekly newspaper, a group of online poker players along with Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, are looking to bring online poker back, at least in California.

They are trying to find a loophole in the federal law and Levine’s bill (AB2026) will call for a study of the federal law itself and then determine if a California only online poker room would be legal. If the study finds that it would be legal, California would then be able to regulate the online poker games and receive a boost in state revenues from the rooms themselves.

Levine has 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.”

Poker Players of America is the sponsor behind the bill. According to their website the PPOA is,

The first independent national organization of American of poker players dedicated to ONE THING — protecting our right to play online and in live games.


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.

It is still in the beginning stages and who would run these new California online poker room is still unclear. Most certainly, current poker club owners, Internet entrepreneurs and because of the Class 2 certification, Indian tribes will all be interested in operating a state run poker room.

According to Levine the best part of the bill is that online poker in California would be regulated.

“If you’re gambling in California with one of these offshore sites, and they just decide not to pay you, you’re out of luck,” Levine said. “If you play legally, then there is recourse.”

Right now the “study bill” is just to determine whether it would be legal and what would the feasibility of such an operations be. If it is found that it can be legally the next step would be to turn the study bill into law but for now,

“It’s a study bill while we work out the details,” Levine said. “But we might put some teeth into it if it looks like we can do this.”

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