A number of industry observers envision 2014 as the year that online poker legislation finally gains approval in California.
That prediction may lean more toward hopefulness than reality considering the infighting seen among Indian tribes, cardrooms and the horse racing industry in the nation’s largest state in recent years. That failure to find common ground has kept California watching from the rail as Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada have intrastate online poker and gambling schemes up and running.
Whether or not the Golden State joins the Internet gambling party in the new year remains to be seen. But if legislators need any type of impetus to hammer out a workable solution, a recent study undertaken by law and economics consulting firm Academicon and online poker tracking site PokerScout would be a good starting point.
Using statistics compiled from 2009-10, the collaborative research indicates that more than $250 million in revenue could be realized in the first year of legalization. That number is projected to jump to nearly $400 million by the end of a decade.
Keep in mind that those estimates are for online poker in California only. Legislative efforts in California will likely remain restricted to poker, as the state’s powerful tribal faction is very concerned that permitting online casino games in addition to poker would put a dent in the already substantial revenue enjoyed by the tribal casinos.
The study uses figures based on online poker players in California who visited unregulated poker sites in the aforementioned years. The key word here being unregulated. The numbers could be even greater when California residents have the safety and security of participating in an Internet poker regime that has the blessing of state officials by way of legalization.
As the nation’s most populous state, California can establish an online poker regime unto itself that would not require seeking partnership agreements with other states in order to increase player pools. Indications are that if legalization were to become realized, state officials are likely to favor this intrastate model.
That is bad news for the rest of the U.S., as California would be most welcomed by the likes of Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, who would be more than happy to establish a working partnership with America’s largest state to enhance liquidity. But such agreements may not be beneficial to California.
Of course, statistics and projections can be dissected and reported. But those projections will mean nothing until the state’s gaming interests can come to an agreement on who will gain a piece of the online poker pie and how much of that pie each will receive. So far, that hasn’t happened. Will the new year bring more of the same?