Proposed Bills Would Legalize Online Poker

Regulating Online Gambling Could Bring $100M In Tax Revenue

An online gamble that could raise hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the state is one step closer to reality.

Employees at the Lucky Lady Casino in the College Area said poker is one of their main sources of profits and the card room is now prepared to go all in and go online with its own poker website.

"It could be very lucrative," said Lucky Lady Casino general manager Jan Beverley. "We would want to try to be a part of that."

Two recently introduced bills in the State Senate would open the door for Internet gaming. Right now, online poker lives in a legal gray area with payouts coming from off-shore accounts. Backers of the legislation said taking advantage of the state's 500,000 online poker players could bring in $100 million a year in tax revenue and create 1,100 to 3,000 new tech-related jobs.

"I think it [will] be good for California to get some revenues from it because people are going to play no matter what," said Beverley.

A recent poll showed 66 percent of Californians now support regulation of online poker profits.

Recently, there was a victory for backers of the proposed legislation when a coalition of 29 Native American tribes endorsed one of the bills despite concerns from some tribes that the bill could cut into their revenues.

However, some believe the bills send the wrong message. Hotline calls to the local Gamblers Anonymous have doubled in the past three years.

"We have kids coming in at 17, 18, 19," said a compulsive gambler who only wanted to be identified as Colin. "It says to them, 'It's okay.' They tell Mom and Dad, 'It's legal. I'm going to do it.'"

The debate about regulating online gambling is expected to heat up as California decides whether to bet on online poker. The New Jersey state legislature recently passed a bill regulating online gambling. On the federal level, a similar bill is expected to be introduced in the next month.

Print this article Back to Top