California Poker Players Beat Free Market Opponents

| by CEI

As I wrote yesterday, California was on the verge of passing a bill that would have allowed residents to play poker online at one of three state-authorized sites, but that would have also have made criminals out of residents who chose to play at any other site online.

The bill was withdrawn by Sen. Wright, supposedly due to pressure from pressure on all sides:

…with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the California card rooms that initially endorsed online poker, and three of California’s political lobbying associations for tribes pitted against the legislation — as well as anti-gambling groups and the visible absence of key players — the legislation as written was a long shot.

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) also opposed the bill due to the criminalization of playing online anywhere but the three hubs chosen by the California department of Justice, in addition to the effect it would have on competition:

“[This bill] will not attract the best qualified and most experienced hub operators… the measure imposes a variety of operational financial barriers and preferences that will discourage or bar non-traditional telecommunications, software, and out-of-state gaming companies from applying as hub operators or subcontractors…Rather than leveraging proven Internet gaming models with recognizable brands and sizable player bases, this bill sets out to ‘reinvent the wheel’ and assumes that California players will readily migrate to unfamiliar new sites.”

The PPA supports federal legislation that overturn the UIGEA and legislation that would create a new framework to license, regulate, and tax Internet gambling.

In any case, the most beneficial action to take (apart from abolishing all laws regulating gambling and involuntary taxes) would be to overturn UIGEA and have online casinos and players fall under existing tax law.