Legalisation Possible for California Online Poker

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Ever since Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware legalised online gambling, California has been mooted as one of the next possible states to follow their lead. However, California appears set to initially focus on online poker before possibly legalising other acts. Well, 2016 has thrown up an outcome where the legalisation of California poker sites now seems to be possible.

Legalisation Agreed in Principle

In April 2016, the California online poker bill received a unanimous 18-0 vote in favour of legalising poker in the state. That being said, the state’s Assembly Governmental Organization Committee performed the vote. Basically, what this means is that the bill is still in its preliminary stages and has only been agreed in principle.

Bad Actor Clause an Issue

If the bill is ever to pass and become law, changes must be made to satisfy all parties involved in the political process. At the centre of the discussion is a concept known as a bad actor clause, which is a legal term that is used almost exclusively when it comes to the possibility of legalising US online poker and gambling.

What is a Bad Actor Clause?

Back in 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed to outlaw US poker sites. Now, why this is relevant is because some California politicians want to impose restrictions on poker operators that continued to serve the country after the act was made illegal.

How Will It Play Out?

The bad actor clause is a questions of ethics, so any operators that honoured the act and stopped serving US customers after UIGEA will not have any issues. However, those that initially ignored UIGEA might be subject to a 10-year ban like for PokerStars in Nevada. Meanwhile, New Jersey chose to not include a bad actor clause in its legislation, but California will not be so lenient.

Which Poker Sites Could Join the Market?

In the longer-term, it would be fantastic for UK and international players if they could compete against opponents from California and other legalised US states. But which poker sites will be hosting the games?

888 Poker

If California opens up then 888 Poker is a certainty. 888 did not operate in the UIGEA was implemented and is not classified as a bad actor. At present, the site is already legalised in Nevada, where a 10-year ban exists for operators categorised as bad actors. In the meantime, UK players can get a 100% match bonus for joining 888 Poker.

Unibet Poker

Unibet Poker is a bit more of a long-shot, but the site would be clear to target California because it was not large enough to serve the US during the pre-UIGEA years. If Unibet does make it to California, then state residents could benefit from a £100 welcome bonus like their UK counterparts.

California online poker does seem to be getting closer, but these political processes can take a couple of years. At this point, it seems inevitable that a bad actor clause will be inserted, so some highly recognisable sites like PokerStars will miss out when California first opens.

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