Online poker? First one’s free
October 11, 2011
Political fighting in California over the issue of online gaming has veered from the moral path to the road to profits.
Faced with looming federal legislation legalizing and regulating online gambling games such as poker, state lawmakers and a bevy of gaming interests are scrambling to come up with a plan to assure California gets its share of an anticipated future of huge revenues.
And hoping to cover the margin, the California Online Poker Association (COPA) announced it is launching free sites, hoping to lure the estimated 2 million Californians who already play poker online — on out-of-state sites.
The first online is a site with the dubious name of CalShark.com. Players participate for free, but cannot gamble real money.
The association, comprised of poker room owners and several Indian casino operators, plan to use the free sites for “branding” and creating an identifiable data base of future customers.
Legislation to allow, tax, and control online sites developed by California businesses stalled this year, but proponents say they’ll be back next session with a new effort.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said hearings would be set for January, “with the express purpose of holding a vote on the issue of online poker early next year,” COPA’s Ryan Hightower told CalCoastNews. “Clearly Sen. Steinberg sees the potential benefits that online poker offers California.”
Backers of online poker claim the sites will provide “thousands of jobs for Californians” and tight security techniques will “ensure players are protected from theft and cheating.”