California Online Poker Bill Returns for 2011

A new California online poker bill has been introduced and has quickly captured the intereste of the media there.

SB40, introduced last week by state Senator Lou Correa of Orange County, received immediate support from the California Gaming Association (CGA) tribal group, which claims to control two-thirds of the state’s licensed card rooms.

“The bill to authorize and regulate online poker will create a needed source of new revenues and jobs as California struggles with a record $28 billion deficit and a soaring unemployment rate of 12%,” CGA reps stated in a news release.

“The growing support for this legislation shows that now is the time for California to engage by creating a legal and safe environment for our residents who play online poker while also generating new revenues and jobs for our state,” senator Correa told the OC Weekly.

At issue really, though, is the state’s budget, and the chance to get tax revenue from online poker. Under Correa’s plan, control and regulation of the new online poker system would likely go to the tribal casinos represented by the CGA, who even “commissioned a study that claims the state would initially make about $82 million a year initially and it would bounce to over $100 million a year within five years,” NBC News reports.

Correa’s bill and the CGA are competing with another California online poker bill. Senator Rod Wright’s SB45, introduced last year, is facing a tough fight against the tribal casino interests, which feel that Wright’s bill falls to stop the “export” of “much needed state revenue out of state or, worse, out of the country to illegal, foreign-based online gaming sites.

Another bill may be in the works, ushered into life by the Poker Voters of America and which may be sponsored by State Assemblyman Jerry Hill (of the San Francisco area). But that bill is still in the very early stages, Capitol Weekly makes sure to point out.