Calif. online gambling study bill moves forward

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A California bill that will explore whether or not a California-only online poker service would be legal under federal law has made a step toward going to a vote in the California legislature.

On Wednesday, the Committee on Governmental Organization moved to approve the bill with a vote of 11-0 and passed it on to the Committee on Appropriations.

That takes the bill, AB 2026 The Gambling Control/California Intrastate Online Poker Act, one step closer to being put up for vote in the legislature.

The bill was introduced in the legislature by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine in February, and if passed, would direct the California Gambling Control Commission to work with the state Department of Justice in order to study whether online gambling for California residents would be illegal under federal laws.

What Levine seeks to have answered is whether online gambling run in California just for California residents would be legal according to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. According to the UIGEA, the states have a right to legalize and regulate intrastate online gambling.

When Levine introduced the bill, he told media that the federal law appears to leave room for states to legalize online gambling as long as the player and the server hosting the online game are both located in the state. His bill is an effort to determine if that is true.

Levine's bill will need to get approval from the Committee on Appropriations as its next step to a vote. However, if it is approved, and the study shows that intrastate regulation is legal and feasible, California could eventually look into setting up intrastate online poker and gambling for its residents.

"It would be regulated," Levine said in Capitol Weekly. "We don't know what the state's piece will be, but it will be a regulated entity."

Levine has also stated that he believes regulated online gambling in the state will ensure consumer protection for online gamblers. For instance, players will have recourse if a site refuses to pay them if they're on a legal site, playing legally.

Related Article: Online Poker Bill Introduced in California

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