Ca. Bill Cash Grab, Ms. Bill Longshot
The states of California and Mississippi both recently introduced legislation for online gaming and poker.
The California bill has been rumored since the DOJ memo regarding the Wire Act in December. The Mississippi bill seemingly came out of nowhere and is surprising for a Bible belt state.
Poker Junkie blogger Compncards has been following both bills and gives us his opinion regarding how likely they are to pass.
Mississippi Offers Easy Entrance But Limited Market
The Mississippi online poker bill offers easy entrance into the market for those that are able to pass licensing requirements.
It will cost licensees only $200,000 for a license followed by deposits of $100,000 annually into the Mississippi General Fund and $100,000 annually deposited into the MS Gaming Commission fund for combating criminal activity.
Granted, they will have to pay taxes to the state from the onset, but $400,000 to start up an online poker site seems cheap - especially when you compare it to California.
With that said, one has to consider the potential market. Both Tunica and Biloxi benefit as casino towns due to easy access for those traveling from bordering states.
That will not be the same saving grace for online poker and one has to wonder how many of the casinos will line up to take a gamble with online poker.
This is also the Bible belt. The state and many of its citizens have shown a reluctance to allow online gambling in the past and there doesn't appear to be a big shift in opinion.
Personally, I give this bill about a 30% chance of passing.
California Bill Obvious Money Grab
Looking over the California poker bill, it becomes obvious that this is nothing but a money grab.
While many figured that the bill would be used as a way to boost revenue for the state, potential online poker operators will have to foot as much as $35 million to open a site.
Up to $5 million will go to application fees while the other $30 million will be a deposit into the general fund that will be used towards the taxes of 10% a month on gross revenues.
Indian tribes are clearly upset over the bill, and rightfully so as it will create an uneven playing field for those that cannot pay the fees.
Some positives on the bill include that licensees must already have a regulatory relationship with the state of at least three years to be eligible. Any online poker site that took real money after December 31st, 2006 is also disqualified from offering services in California.
California obviously offers the best market in the nation for intrastate poker. As such, plenty of companies will pony up the required money to enter the market.
Unfortunately, smaller operations, including Indian tribes are going to be left out.
I cannot see this bill getting passed in its current form. If I'm proven wrong, expect Indian tribes to sue.