Online poker bill introduced in California

Lloyd Levine
Lloyd Levine - online poker's savior in California?

Assemblyman Lloyd Levine has introduced a bill in California that will explore whether or not a California-only online poker service would be legal under federal law.

According to Capitol Weekly, the newspaper of California government and politics, Bill AB 2026 would order a study on the federal online gambling laws that ban Internet poker and see if the state could regulate the online game for California residents.

Levine said in the newspaper that the federal law appears to leave room for states to legalize online gambling as long as the player and server hosting the online game are both located in the state. His bill proposes a study to find out if that's true.

He is referring to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act that was passed as a part of the Safe Port Act in 2006. The Act hasn't been fully implemented yet, but when it is it will effectively ban online gambling prohibiting money transactions related to illegal online gambling.

However, the Act doesn't define what illegal online gambling is. Instead, it leaves that open for the states to determine.

That means a state could potentially allow online gambling for its residents. While there are many issues to work out in setting up an intra-state online poker site, Levine told Capital Weekly the beauty of a one-state system is that the legislature and the governor will ultimately be able to control decisions such as who will be allowed to set up online operations, whether and how tax will be assessed, and more.

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

He also believes online gambling operated in a regulated environment in the state would ensure consumer protection for Internet gamblers. He points out that if a player is playing legally on a site that is legal in California, there is recourse if a site refuses to pay a customer.

For now, his bill is just a study to see if this system would even be feasible in the face of federal law. But he did say if it's viable, his bill could evolve into an actual push to re-legalize online poker in the state.

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