Marty Derbyshire los angeles editorial

Are California lawmakers waiting to see if the Trump Administration takes a stand for or against online gambling before they act?

One editorial from an award-winning Los Angeles newspaper suggests as much.

The article, entitled Are the gambling laws in LA too harsh?, recommends California gambling laws be relaxed to allow card rooms to become actual casinos and allow online gambling inside the state. The editorial appeared in Cerritos Community News on Dec. 20. The paper won 12 L.A. Press Club Awards from 2012 to 2016 and was named Best Investigative Newspaper in Los Angeles in 2012, 2014, and 2016.

The US appetite for gambling

The editorial begins by claiming the demand for gambling in the US is very high. It points to figures showing Americans spent $240 billion on gambling in 2013 alone.

The writing goes on to paint a picture of the California gambling industry. This sector currently includes card rooms with player banking and strict rules regarding the paying and taking of bets by the house.

The landscape also includes Native American casinos, which host the slot machines and traditional casino games that card rooms can’t. The article cites more than 50 Native American casinos operating in the state.

California’s gambling industry also includes its state lottery. According to the article, there are more than 21,000 lottery retail locations across the state, which helped raise nearly $1.4 billion to support the public school system in 2014-15. The local gambling industry also includes the state’s 14 horse racing tracks.

Online gambling in the gray

Finally, the article posits online gambling may already be a bigger part of the state’s gambling industry than lawmakers are willing to admit.

The editorial claims California has failed to keep up with the global phenomenon of internet gambling. People are already visiting online casinos and playing poker, slots or table games in big numbers, the article says.

Plus, the supposed activity may not even be against California law. In fact, the editorial estimates gambling online is a misdemeanor at worst. And that’s only if smartphones, computers, and tablets are considered gambling devices.

The editorial wraps up with a flourish:

“It could be argued that the gambling laws that govern L.A. could benefit from being relaxed a little to allow card rooms to become actual casinos and also to allow online gambling from within the state. In the case of the latter it may be that it’s a waiting game to see if the Trump administration is going to take a stand either pro or ante legalization as it’s a subject that the President has been quiet about to date.”

California is a trailblazing state, the article states, and could be a good bet to become even more gambling friendly in the future.

Online poker legislation in California

State lawmakers have been considering online poker legislation for more than a decade.

In 2016, the state came closer than ever to passing legislation that would legalize and regulate online poker. However, the issue of operator suitability stood firmly in the way.

A tribal casino coalition began pushing for a 10-year ban against PokerStars and parent company Amaya,. The coalition argued the ban was justified because PokerStars had operated in the US previously. In turn, PokerStars partnered with other tribal casinos and the state’s biggest card rooms. They pushed to lower that potential ban length. When state’s legislative session ended in August, no agreement was reached and no bill passed.

The stalemate continues to this day. This said, Pennsylvania joined Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware as an online gambling state by passing a bill in October. Additionally, New Jersey joined Nevada and Delaware in signing an agreement to share online poker player pools that same month. Pennsylvania’s new law includes language allowing it to join them in the future.

The growth of online gambling across the US could give California a push in this area in 2018.

Marty Derbyshire
Marty Derbyshire -

Martin Derbyshire is a veteran of the world of poker and gambling, having worked as a reporter, producer, and editor in the industry for more than a decade. He has traveled the globe interviewing high-profile personalities and contributes to a number of publications, including USPoker.com, PlayCA.com, and PlayNJ.com.