4/29/10 – The influential Californian newspaper Capitol Weekly, which serves an audience made up mainly of government and political readers, says it’s time for online poker to be regulated in the state.
The op-ed article points out that large numbers of Californians play at online foreign websites that
are not regulated or monitored by U.S. law enforcement to ensure that consumer protections against fraud, cheating or theft of personal financial information are in place, and makes the observation that these are basic safeguards they would have playing in any licensed land-based casino in California.
“Worse, neither the State of California nor legal land-based gaming operators in the State receive a penny from the multi-billion online poker industry that operates from foreign locations,” it notes.
Millions of Californians play today and that number is growing exponentially, the articles asserts, going on to attribute the pastime’s popularity to the fact that poker is the third most watched spot on cable television, and that internet poker is faster-paced than poker played at a traditional casino or card club.
California legislators are currently wrestling with the contentious subject of legalization and regulation to better protect players and the financial interests of the state, and the Capitol Weekly article notes: “It’s about time, because federal law says individual states have the power to regulate Internet poker, raise revenues from it and protect players and minors.”
The piece presents its ideas on essentials for legalization, asserting that whatever system is adopted, it must provide players with safety and certainty. “If the ‘eye-in-the-sky’ can prevent cheating in a [land] casino, a state-approved Internet system must [equally] prevent fraud and collusion,” it observes.
“This means that, consistent with federal law, the California system must use technology to prevent minors from playing, and players are entitled to certainty.”
The article goes on: “Legalization and regulation is the only way to empower California law enforcement to guard against identity theft, release of personal financial information, fraud or the use of these sites by underage players – all protections that can be provided by state of-the-art security technology used in a system regulated and monitored by law enforcement.
“Second, the Legislature must put in place a system that allows its contractors to compete with powerful offshore competitors to keep money from leaving California. After all, those companies start with a market share of two million Californians.”
The Capitol Weekly quotes independent estimates from PricewaterhouseCoppers, H2 Gambling Capital and Goldman Sachs which estimate gross revenues in the first year of proper Californian regulation to be around $500 million.
“If the state receives 20 percent of those gross revenues as part of any contract for operating an intrastate system, roughly $100 million annually could be generated,” the article notes.
The author argues convincingly against the proposition that Indian tribes holding land gambling deals with the state government should have exclusivity in any new online gambling dispensation, and concludes:
“There are many different issues to be debated and resolved before legalizing and regulating Internet poker. But it’s important for that debate to occur – before it’s too late.”