As states gear up for a brutal winter amid the ongoing pandemic, what steps are being taken in California to shore up the budget deficit? Could this be the year online casinos are finally legalized in the state?
As states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania continue to see success with their online casino industries, other states are starting to think about legalization of iGaming as well.
One state all industry insiders are eyeing is California, and for good reason. California is one of the wealthiest states in the country, and has the fifth largest economy in the world.
California has also been one of the hardest hit states from the COVID-19 pandemic, and with that their state government has seen a huge loss in state revenue. States have been requesting help from Congress, but no assistance has come as of yet.
Because of this, states like California are seeking out new forms of revenue, and online casinos offer the perfect opportunity for just such a thing. New Jersey took in $32 million in state taxes from online casinos during the month of September alone.
The biggest take away is that California needs to legalize online casinos.
Since state laws regulate gambling within the state borders, a state as large as California has a lot to gain from legalization. This is especially true during moments like what we are experiencing right now -- specifically, the loss of state revenue due to the pandemic.
The revenue that could be generated from legalization could easily help fill holes in funding for necessary programs like education, housing, and emergency services.
In order for this to happen, California needs to start laying the groundwork for regulation now. A well regulated gaming industry in the state will be better for those playing the games, casino operators, and the state. These regulations are also necessary to stomp out illegal and offshore casinos that are already catering to players in the state.
California isn’t just behind the times on legalizing online casinos, they haven’t legalized sports betting yet. And unfortunately, the state legislature is not moving quickly enough to get this done.
The biggest obstacle to getting this done are the tribal casinos and poker rooms operating in the state. These businesses view online casinos as a threat, and continue to successfully lobby legislators against legalization.
Additionally, the process to get online casinos legalized is more than a little difficult in California. Any bill proposed in the state legislature will have to be approved by at least ⅔ of the chamber and then be approved by voters in the state by referendum.
Currently, those in sports betting seem to have brighter fortunes ahead in the state than the online casinos. Recent proposals from state legislators would legalize online sports betting at tribal casinos so that the two industries would be working together. This measure has passed the committee, but is still going through the process to get a floor vote.
There is no doubt that with the current pandemic, and restrictions and closures on land-based casinos, that the state of California would stand to benefit from legalizing online gambling. However, it will take enough legislators in the state to do what is right for the people of California to get this done. Until then, we will continue to monitor legislation in the state as it comes up.
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