2014 Could Be Year California Legalizes Online Gaming

By: Frank Horton
Monday, October 13th, 2013

For years, gambling enthusiasts have been told that the full legalization of online gambling was all but inevitable. For the residents of many states—including California—these promises may be increasingly hard to believe. Certainly California gamblers saw no significant progress toward legal online gambling in 2011 or in 2012—and now, 2013 appears that it, too, will offer nothing new in terms of gambling legislation.

Yet gamers in California are encouraged not to give up hope: There is some tantalizing evidence to suggest that 2014 may finally be the year.

Certainly, the undercurrents of legislative action are signaling that there may finally be a shift. In truth, these undercurrents are nothing new; the problem in California has never been that there is a lack of interest in legalizing online gambling. No, the problem has been that there are so many lawmakers trying to legalize Internet gambling that nothing has gotten accomplished. Several pro-gambling bills have been introduced, but each of them has been unique enough that no common purpose or unity has been achieved.

There have been three particular bills introduced in recent years—SB51, SB 678, and a proposal from the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians. All three have been well-intentioned bills, designed to make Internet gaming a legal and viable reality for residents of California. They have differed on various issues, though—licensing fees, license eligibility, and the so-called “Bad Actor” clause. These issues may not mean a great deal to most casual gamers, but they certainly mean something to casinos and to gambling companies—and thus, to California lawmakers, as well.

These various issues have stalled the progress of legalized online gambling in California, but recent legislative discussions indicate that compromise is more likely by the day. (A recent amendment to SB51 is one particularly noteworthy sign of compromise.) What’s more, outspoken opposition to online gambling has waned significantly. All told, it appears as though there is more and more unity of purpose among those who would like California to join such states as New Jersey and Nevada in legalizing Internet gambling.

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