Californian Online Poker Worth $200 Million A Year For CoffersMay 16, 2012 1:57 pm
Faced with the prospect of tax increases and cuts to public services, Senate leader Darrell Steinberg and California Senator Roderick Wright have co-authored an online poker bill which could help raise up to $200 million each year for the cash-strapped state.
Highlighting the fact he was supporting the move in order to plug the enormous projected $16 billion shortfall in the state’s budget, Darrell Steinberg commented:
“Once again, we’re facing horrible cuts to the core public services Californians need and deserve. My sole reason for supporting internet gaming in California is the potential to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to help restore some of those services.”
Also coming out in favour of online poker legalisation is the CA Online Poker Association, a group of casino operators and California tribes which are pushing for a regulated and safe environment for an estimated 2 million Californians to play online. According to their website, the state of California accounts for 60% of US online poker players wagering around $13 billion a year on illegal online poker sites. As spokesman for Thunder Valley Doug Elmets explains:,
“This is another opportunity to generate revenue in an area that frankly is already burgeoning offshore, so why not keep it here in California. It’s a reality that will come to pass sooner than later.”
If passed, around 150 gambling businesses could then apply for 10 year licenses to operate gambling websites to Californian residents only.
Despite opposition from groups concerned that legalising online poker in the US could create gambling addiction problems, many other states are also currently introducing bills to help with their depleted budgets. The list includes Nevada, Mississippi, Florida, New Jersey and Iowa.
It is estimated that US online betting is worth around $40 billion annually but
with the country receiving none of the tax benefits as the sites are run by overseas unregulated companies.