There are now four bills pending in the Legislature that would make Internet poker legal in California. It is an issue that has been debated, but unresolved, for years.
Anita Lee studies gambling policies for the Legislative Analyst’s Office. She says one of the biggest hurdles for California would be competing with existing, illegal poker web sites. Lee says the state must avoid over regulation so it doesn't drive players to the illegal sites.
"If you're choosing between player experiences you're likely to go with the experience that's easier to manage, easier to figure out, has less sign-ins or registrations and things like that," she says.
Deciding who can offer the games will also play a major role in online poker policy. Lee says the system of tribal gaming in California complicates online gaming.
"So in other states that have gambling, for example Nevada and New Jersey, their licensees are extensions of the individuals who have brick and mortar facilities," she says. "We don’t have the same thing that they do."
Lee says tribes are increasingly taking part in online poker discussions. But she says card room operators and the horse racing industry also want to be involved in the conversation.
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