California Wants to Ban Online Gambling

Just as Nevada is getting ready to open the doors on legalized Internet gambling, California is attempting to shut it down – for the second time.

A California state assembly committee on April 16 approved a bill to ban most forms of online gambling. The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Dario Frommer, would fine gambling sites that allow players from California to log in, and would make playing itself a misdemeanor offense.

The bill appears to be similar in spirit to the Australian government’s current attempt to ban Net betting. According to Frommer, “People can literally go online with a credit card, click and lose a ton of money.”

Players would get a warning for their first offense, and a $100 fine for subsequent offences. Casinos would be responsible for blocking players from California, and stand to face stiff penalties if they fail to do so. These penalties include a fine of up to $1,000 per offense and 90 days in jail.

According to a committee staffer, financial institutions would also be subject to prosecution if they facilitate online wagering.

Traditional casino games such as blackjack, craps, and roulette are currently illegal in California, but the bill provides exemptions for other forms of gambling, including pari-mutuel horse betting, card clubs, state lotteries, and Indian casinos.

This is the second trip through the state legislature for this type of bill in less than two years. Last year’s bill failed because of concerns raised by the state Justice Department over enforcement costs.

The current draft, which is backed by several local card clubs and anti-gambling agencies, now moves to the Public Safety Committee for further discussion.