It was only a matter of time before California jumped on board with online poker. Over the weekend SB 1463 was introduced and if the bill is passed online poker would become legal in the State of California. The bill has been introduced as an emergency bill and that means if the bill is passed (2/3rd Votes) online poker would become legal immediately. Normally in the State of California new laws don’t be take effect until January 1st of the following year, but emergency bills can become law instantly after being passed.
Initially only online poker would be legalized in the State of California, but the bill states that other internet gambling games could be approved in the future as long as the game is already legal under land-based gaming laws in California. Poker players will need to sign-up for an account and have their ID verified before they can start playing real money poker. Players would need to be located within California in order to be allowed to play and every player has to be 21 years of age or older.
Players would need to fund their account by using a credit card or debit card, as cash and money orders won’t be accepted. It will also become illegal to play with unlicensed poker rooms in the State of California if the bill is approved. Online gaming companies that want to offer online poker in California would need to apply for a license if the bill is passed. The requirements to apply for a license are pretty steep, as each licensee would need to put $30M in the California Internet Gambling Fund.
The $30M that needs to be paid into the fund would cover the licensee’s fees for ten years. However, I don’t think there are going to be many operators looking to invest $30M in California until they know the market is going to work. This means that poker players in the State of California will most likely have limited legal options initially. The good news is that the bill will allow poker operators to operate in other legal jurisdictions and the player pools don’t need to be segregated.
There are many legislators supporting the bill in California and many expect that the bill could earn $200M in tax revenue the 1st year. California needs money and they’re ready to do almost anything to start bringing in more tax revenues. I think the bills will be passed in California quickly and we could see legalized online poker in California before most US States. The bill would also create jobs in California, as each licensed operator will need to have most employees located within the State of California.