Although Californian State Senator Roderick Wright, D-Inglewood, has cancelled his own bill to legalise internet poker, he said he would continue negotiations to try to find a compromise, but believes the odds of success this year are “less than 50-50”.
He said: “We’re going to try and work some more and see what we can do. We will keep talking. But it’s a tough go.”
Wright made significant changes to his bill due to concerns from competing gambling interests such as card clubs, Indian casinos and other parties. His legislation would have allowed around 150 card clubs, Indian casinos and horse racing tracks that already operate legally in California to apply for licenses to run gambling websites in the state. It is estimated the bill would have raised $200 million annually for the state, while at the same time protecting Californian players who play internet poker.
However, opposition remained, with differing groups wanting different things. In addition, some Indian tribes were afraid that legalising internet poker would ruin their businesses. Other card clubs and horse racing tracks did not want newcomers to the game offering internet services, but all groups said the bill did not give sufficient protection from out-of-state organisations taking over California poker sites. Senator Wright said: “If you limit who can participate, you are limiting the number of dollars that come in to the state. Underlying all of this is you still have a public interest to uphold.”
With all this opposition, it is unclear whether the senator will attempt to negotiate a compromise later this year, and he did not at first return calls for comment. However, other interested parties and supporters of internet poker seem likely to ask Senator Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, to introduce another bill. Last year he had put forward an alternative proposal that might be more to the likes of the opposition.