Despite federal and state bans on online poker, as many as 1 million Californians spend a total of about $300 million annually playing the game — typically on websites based outside the country.
Lawmakers have been debating for more than four years whether to create a legal outlet for these players but have been stymied by opposition from powerful Indian gambling interests. Those forces appear to have scuttled a new proposal by state Sens. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) and Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) that was sidelined by a Senate committee last week just before a scheduled vote. There's a good argument to be made for legalizing and regulating online poker or, conversely, working more aggressively to ban it. With the tribes pulling the strings in Sacramento, however, California isn't doing either.