Senate To Vote On Legal Online Poker In California

A proposal to legalize online poker in California made its way through the Senate Governmental Organization Committee last month and is now on its way to the Senate Appropriations Committee to be voted upon in August.

If the bill, AB2026, a.k.a. the California Gambling Control/Intrastate Online Poker Legalization Act, is passed, residents of California could see legal online poker as early as July of 2009. Should this occur - and I know so many of you out there have your fingers (and toes and maybe even eyes) crossed that it will – not only would it be a historical moment in California’s history, it could pave the way for other US states to follow.

Anthony ‘Tuff Fish’ Sandstrom, a resident poker pro in California, started a petition sometime back that would see a vote on the February ballots, allowing the people to decide if legalizing online poker in California was appropriate. Even though he succeeded in his petition, he withdrew it before the measure could be added to voting ballots.

Sandstrom is now backing the California Gambling Control/Intrastate Online Poker Legalization Act. “We hope to have this bill passed through the legislature by the end of August and signed into law in the fall.”

Sandstrom went on to say, “My hope is that it would go into effect in January of next year. We would then have the Division of Gaming Control and the Attorney General’s office spend whatever brief period of time they would need to draft the appropriate regulations and hopefully sometime in the middle of next year we could actually have legal poker online in California.”

Here is what has already happened…

In February, the bill was introduced as a means to study the feasibility of online poker in California. Since then, widespread debate and extensive discussion from California legislation has revised the bill so that it now calls for legalization and regulation of online poker in California.

Bill AB2026 is a direct result of the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) of 2006, which specifically provides the option to legalize in-state online gambling by meeting certain requirements. AB2026 was redesigned to meet these conditions before being propelled through Assembly, and then the Senate Governmental Organization Committee.

Here’s what needs to happen next…

Next month, the bill will be presented to the Senate Appropriations Committee. If AB2026 passes here, it will then be voted upon by a full Senate for approval. Upon passage by Senate, California would begin the implantation of legalization and regulation of online poker in California.

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