California has introduced its long-awaited bill authorising the creation of an intrastate online poker system.
Senator Rod Wright, leader of the Senate Committee with oversight for gambling, introduced the amended version of SB 1485 late on Friday. The bill proposes the state's Department of Justice award up to three five-year contracts to California-based operators to run online poker websites for state residents.
The bill has been designated as an urgency measure, meaning it would go into effect immediately upon legislative passage and signature by the Governor. A non-urgency measure would not go into effect until 1 January 2011.
This urgency status of the bill reflects California’s pressing need for tax revenues to plug its huge and growing budget deficit, set to reach to US$19bn by the end of the current financial year.
Florida and New Jersey are the other cash-hungry US states currently considering intrastate egaming systems as authorised under the 2006 federal Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).
The state and federal holiday on Monday means SB 1485 will appear before California legislators on Tuesday 1 June 2010, the day final UIGEA regulations compelling banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions to “prevent payments to businesses in connection with unlawful Internet gambling” come into force.
Wright’s bill differs significantly in its proposals to those in the bill for which California gaming tribe the Morongo sought a sponsor last year. This aimed to establish a single California poker site run by a consortium of tribes and card rooms, and stalled amid accusations from other tribes that the Morongo was looking to dominate online poker alongside the card clubs.