Since the boom of online poker there has been a constant battle over whether or not it should be legalized. Currently, the online version is only in New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada. However, there have been more states debating the issue and the latest to get in on the action is California, where the arguments are the same across the board.
Assembly Bill 2863 is being put up for debate in California and the official definition is that it would "establish regulations for the safe implantation of intrastate iPoker in California". The bill is being put forth by Adam Gray, a member of the Assembly, and their argument is that online poker can bring a lot of revenue in for the state. They also have a few professional poker players on their side as they've said that people are going to play the game regardless. Right now, they can only play on sites that aren't regulated.
If the government could figure out a way to regulate and tax it, it would be good for everyone involved. One poker player even says he has to travel to Canada to play online poker and he doesn't see the difference between online poker and other games like horse racing and even fantasy sports, which is getting bigger by the day.
This isn't exactly breaking news, but this conversation seems to frequently happen across many gambling realms. Whether it's poker, fantasy sports or sports betting, we all know that everyone does it, we all know that it's currently unregulated, and we all know that the government can make a lot of money if they were to regulate and tax it.
But then there's the other side of the argument, which is being led by California senior senator Dianne Feinstein, who believes that poker sites are involved in sordid crimes around the world. She brought up money laundering as an example of this and she also has help from the California Coalition Against Gambling Expansion, headed by James Butler, He says that citizens will be in for more of a loss when it comes to things like crime and unemployment, and people might go into bankruptcy playing poker.
And this is the old school mindset and why many governments haven't gotten on board. They believe gambling to be a shady affair, pretending like if it's not legalized, it won't exist. This old school mindset currently ignores the fact that millions of people across the country are playing poker and betting online, and they'll do it regardless of what the laws stipulate.
Even though the year is 2016, it still feels like we're having an old school, Prohibition-type of debate. The fact of the matter is that when it comes to the "sin" activities like smoking, gambling and drinking, people are going to find ways around the rules. If they want to play online poker, they're going to play online poker. As soon as the government realizes that, they can join the party and start making some money off the activities.
The only reason this topic is up for debate is because the government of California is facing a $400 billion debt this year and is looking for ways to stop the bleeding. Making online poker legal and taxing it wouldn't erase the debt, but it would definitely take a chunk out of it, and they could put in regulations to make it safer for their citizens. Sounds like a win-win but many old school minds still haven't seen the light.
California tends to be a progressive state, so we'll see if they legalize online poker and become a key trailblazer that other state governments will look to as an example.