According to industry analysts, many US states will legalize online poker if California, the most highly populated of all US states, legalizes and regulates the game first. However, legalizing online poker in California was not that easy because the state’s Native American tribes are not in favor of it. Now that seven influential tribes have changed their minds about legalizing the game, online poker in California could become a reality.
The tribes have demanded that California regulators should license only tribe-owned casinos to operate online poker sites. Their monopoly over California’s gambling industry enables them to place such a demand.
If the government of California agrees to this request and grants online poker licenses only to tribe-owned casinos, the state’s poker players will soon be playing legal poker from the comforts of home.
The state’s Native American tribes can get what they want because they are highly influential. Over the years, they have contributed to various political campaigns and the lawmakers tend to act in their favor.
Although lawmakers are eager to legalize online poker in California according to the terms established by the tribes, not all parties are enthusiastic about it. Many of these opponents are supporters of Sheldon Adelson’s national anti online gambling coalition. Adelson, the owner of major Las Vegas gambling companies, has vociferously stated several times that online poker legalization in California will cannibalize the brick-and-mortar casino gaming industry in Las Vegas. He is now putting in all efforts to prevent online gambling legalization in the state.
The PokerStars debate is also threatening to be a huge obstacle to legalizing the game in California. Although PokerStars, the biggest online poker room in the world, wants to grab a share of California’s newly regulated online poker market, and has signed a deal with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, one of the biggest and most influential gambling tribes in the state, other gambling tribes do not want PokerStars in the picture. They have demanded for the introduction of a “bad actor” clause in California’s online poker laws to prevent PokerStars from gaining entry into the market.
Currently, online poker is legal in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, and several industry analysts feel that California will become the fourth US state to pass online poker laws. Some of them have predicted that California will propose an online poker bill by 2015 latest. However, only time can tell if the state will legalize the game.