Mike Gatto Introduces New California Online Poker Bill

Mike GattoAssemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) has introduced a new online poker bill in California, which could go a long way to providing a regulated online poker framework in the Golden State sometime in 2015. Legalized online poker in California would raise much needed revenue for the state while provide a safer gaming environment for players.

The online poker bill (also known as AB 9) has basically taken a draft bill that was introduced by a coalition of tribal groups earlier but added one important consideration. The new California online poker bill will require players to register and deposit in person at one of a number of licensed card rooms, casinos or “satellite service centers.”

It is possible that this added inconvenience could detract from playing online poker for many Californians since the idea of traveling to a casino or being stuck in traffic just to deposit $50 might hardly seem worth it, at least that’s the concern of those who oppose the bill.

When you really think about it, one of the main reasons that many people play online poker is because of the convenience and flexibility it offers. So even though regulated online poker in California would be welcomed and embraced with open arms, the proposed bill is far from being ideal. That said, it could be much worse, as it could require players to make all deposits in person, but fortunately that is not one of the requirements of the bill.

The language in Gatto’s AB 9 legislation is not favorable for PokerStars, since the inclusion of the bad actor clause would prevent their entry into the California market, even though they are under new ownership.

In an interview that was published on PokerNews, Gatto explained the intent behind the proposed legislation. He suggested that by having accounts, deposits and selected withdrawals made in person it will safeguard against minors playing games and criminal activities like money laundering, while at the same time also helping smaller casinos and card rooms that hold licenses to act on behalf of the online poker sites. These smaller establishments likely wouldn’t be able to set up online poker rooms to service players in California but they could benefit from the foot traffic created as a result.

If this online poker bill passes players from California would be required to create an online poker account in person, either at the licensed casino or card room or at one of the establishments licensed to service players. Players may also go to service centers throughout the state to register a new account to start playing.

These casinos, card rooms and service centers will also provide a way for players to make deposits and withdrawals. If the bill passed remains unchanged, it will be mandatory for players to make their first deposits in person. Furthermore, withdrawals that are over a certain amount will also have to be made in person at one of the physical locations, although it’s not yet known what the withdrawal limits are.

Making regulated online poker games available to the 38-million residents of California is considered a crucial step towards improving the state of online poker in the United States. If the Golden State can make regulated online poker a reality and do so successfully it can pave the way for other U.S. states to follow.

Only time will tell if that is made possible by the AB 9 legislation or through another online poker bill that is passed in California. But as it stands right now thousands of dollars each and every day is being transferred to offshore gaming sites and these operators aren’t spending a cent on taxes.