New Jersey’s plan to regulate online gambling, if successful, may position it as the eventual hub of all U.S. iGaming regulations. But there’s still a chance that California may beat it to the punch. 

As OnlineCasinoSpotlight points out, California already holds the advantage of having a variety of different gambling types already legalized — and this has come about directly because of the desires of the people, who voted on these reforms via ballot proposals, as opposed to the political maneuvering of lawmakers (as is the case in New Jersey).

There’s a pretty big incentive for California to regulate online gambling, since so much of its gambling dollars currently gets spent in other states — particularly Nevada, just hours away from the L.A. metro area.

“Outside of the state, Californians spend over $10 billion each year in Nevada casinos while making 14 million visits,” OnlineCasinoSpotlight continues. “Californians are the largest population to visit Nevada establishments. The largest establishments of specific gaming include, card clubs, horse racing, the lottery, charitable gaming and bingo (in that order).”

“We have a bill sponsor who will be announced in the next few weeks,” Melanie Brenner of the Poker Voters of America told “The challenge in California has always been with the tribes, and we have made great strides there. We are just ironing out a few minor details and then we will be able to make a public announcement of their support very soon.”

Newly elected Democratic governor of California Jerry Brown is expected to be supportive of such a bill, according to Brenner.

Brenner also doesn’t see a problem with Jersey regulating online poker first. “I’m really pulling for them to get it done in New Jersey,” she continued, per the PokerNews story. “It would be great for us. I think there’s a certain apprehension from some of the states on if they want to be first. When we first sit down with legislators, they always ask what other state has done this. To have a state up and pass legislation will give us more momentum.”

For their part, the tribes who largely control California’s casinos have never let the issue go; 2010 has seen a steady stream of news devoted to the idea of regulating online poker — via the state’s powerful tribal casino powers.

If this plan comes off, poker affiliates in the U.S. may soon be seeing a very different online poker marketplace, with different brands to promote and potentially a different nature of affiliate marketing altogether.

Then again, maybe not — some international companies are already preparing themselves for legal online poker and gambling in the U.S., and may be in a position to move into a newly regulated California market, should that happen. PartyGaming set up a California office earlier in 2010, and Atlantis Internet Group’s plan to launch an online poker network in the state are still on track.

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