California Senator Roderick Wright has submitted a bill to legalize online poker in the state.
Operators would be required to pay $30 million for a five-year license under SB 51.
As they have from the beginning, several gaming tribes in the state oppose such a bill, although they are not opposed in principle to some bill that legalizes online gaming.
Some gaming industry experts estimate that online poker could generate as much as $685 million in revenues.
Wright has introduced similar bills three times before, but feels that some factors have changed. “What I’m finding is that more of the stakeholders are better educated,” he said in an interview with Online Poker. “From the initial introduction of this bill to today, a substantially greater number of the participants also have partners, so they’re much more likely, and qualified, to go into the business. As people understand and realize that it’s profitable for them, they’re much more likely to play. I watched the Morongo Band of Mission Indians move into the business. I watched Thunder Valley and some of the major tribes shift their position because they see how they can benefit.”
Wright predicts gaming tribes in California to be a “major players” in any online poker offered, and that they will operate some of the poker “hubs” that his bill anticipates.
Pro Poker Player Deals with DOJ
The effects of Black Friday, April 15, 2011, continue to be finalized as Full Tilt Poker co-founder Howard Lederer wrapped up the charges against him by reaching an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department last month. While not criminally charged, Lederer settled a civil suit in which the DOJ claimed that he defrauded customers of Full Tilt and sought damages.
The settlement calls for Lederer to forfeit bank accounts with funds in excess of $1.25 million, as well as some real estate in Las Vegas worth more than $1 million, and other luxury items valued at under $200,000. In addition, Lederer has agreed not to work for any other U.S.-facing online poker room until the legalization of online poker in the country is settled.
The government had originally sought more than $42 million in settlements from Lederer. Also charged with Lederer were fellow pros Chris “Jesus” Ferguson and Rafe Furst, along with Full Tilt President Ray Bitar. Furst has also reached a deal with the DOJ, albeit for much less than Lederer is paying.
Lederer admitted no wrongdoing as a result of the deal, but his reputation in the poker world is in ruins. After Black Friday, he disappeared for many months, only surfacing recently, taking in cash games at Bellagio and Aria. Other players sought to create a petition to ban Lederer from playing at Aria, but casino officials wouldn’t let the petition be circulated on the property.