The legalisation and regulation of online gaming is something that has been in the cards for the US state of California for quite some time now.
A number of meetings have been undertaken between state government figures and various tribes (who operate a large number of gaming establishments in California) throughout the year. Those interactions resulted in the possibility of a proposal for the legalisation of online gaming to be put forward to the state’s congress.
Such a proposal has not been passed in the state as of yet, but the Commissioner of California’s Gambling Control Commission has expressed his optimism at online poker eventually being regulated in the state. Richard Schuetz, who has been the head of the Commission since 2011, was reported as saying that an online poker market in California could be successful in its own right.
“We have 38 million people,” he said. “We’re the eighth largest economy in the world. We’re bigger than Canada, so it’s not a case like Nevada that has 2.7 million people. We have more poker tables in the state of California than every other state in the nation.”
Schuetz also said that it would be more difficult to regulate other forms of online gaming due to its potential effects on some of the tribal-owned casinos in California.
While there is realistic potential for online poker to be regulated in California, it is unlikely to come anytime soon. That is because a state election is expected to be called and carried out sometime in 2014, which makes it unlikely for most major reforms to be undertaken by the government.
The assertion that a California online poker market could be successful without interstate compacts, should a state market eventually be established and regulated, certainly has strong merit. California’s population is more than triple that of Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey combined, which are the only US states that have legalized online poker and gambling to date.
If poker would be the only game offered online in California, the high population could help lead to decent traffic numbers on state poker sites, provided they are of good quality. Two poker sites – Ultimate Poker and WSOP – currently operate in the neighboring state of Nevada, which has a population of just 2.7 million people.
According to PokerScout, Ultimate Poker has a seven-day player average of 100, while WSOP has an average of 120 for the same period. If those numbers, in terms of population percentage, were replicated in California, it would likely mean major success for the poker sites that would operate in the state.
However, that could also lead to a greater number of companies who wish to operate in California, which could also lead to poker traffic being spread out over a wider range of sites.