California’s proposal to legalize online poker and gambling will require the gaming interests of cardrooms, tribal casinos and horse racing tracks to form alliances since only a select number of online gambling licenses are expected to be granted.
Gambling regulators in the Garden State currently oversee about 150 entities that offer some form of live gambling in the state. The divide over who should be granted licensing has created tension. Indian tribes and cardrooms believe that the horse tracks don’t belong in the game because racing has no connection to poker. The horse racing industry counters that reasoning by stating that they already are providing online betting on races and deserve inclusion in any new online gambling regulations.
“The question is whether they can work out the politics over who should get licenses,” noted gaming expert I. Nelson Rose said to the San Francisco Chronicle. “Nothing makes as much money as a legal gambling monopoly. And if you can’t have a monopoly, you want an oligopoly.”
An alliance has already been formed between dozens of tribal casinos and cardrooms via the California Online Poker Association (COPA), which launched free-play poker for California residents on Calshark.com. The site was established last year to be in place in the eventuality that online poker becomes regulated. The idea is to make an easy switch from play money to real money once lawmakers approve the legislation.
The state’s horse racing industry is also said to be considering an alliance among themselves in the creation of one website that will represent all of California’s racing interests. These alliances will be crucial to allowing all existing gambling entities in the state to get in on the action and revenue that online gambling will provide.
The current bill before lawmakers, SB1463, allows intrastate poker to be provided for two years, after which online casino games may be phased in. Tribal gaming interests are afraid that much of their land-based casino revenue may be lost to online gambling customers if regulations go beyond Internet poker only.
Any new legislation will certainly not completely satisfy all of the gambling interests involved in the nation’s most populated state. Yet, as we approach Black Friday’s one-year anniversary that virtually shutdown Internet poker to Californians and all of the U.S., it is the players who are denied the most satisfaction by not being allowed to play poker online until lawmakers and gambling interests resolve their conflicts.