You are here: Home / Gambling Industry / Internet Gambling

Internet Gambling

State and federal actions to legalize online poker - view the " 2009 Legislation" page. For all related news stories put "online poker" or "internet gambling" into the search box in the upper right hand corner.


Internet gambling offers a powerful means to reach people in their homes and allows gambling without the need for a physical gaming establishment. Internet gambling sites can turn a personal computer or cell phone into a virtual duplicate of a casino video slot machine. Online games include blackjack, video poker, bingo, craps, roulette, baccarat, and keno - virtually every form of gambling.

Players deposit "front money," which includes payment in advance by credit/debit card, wire transfer, mailed checks, money orders, payment aggregators. Many sites allow players to obtain a small number of chips for free. Even with low stakes betting, the games can run through hundreds of dollars in an hour.

Internet Gambling is not legal in the United States and several online companies have been prosecuted. At least two U.S. Courts have held that foreign casino businesses accepting bets from customers in the United States may violate federal law. However extradition treaties ordinarily cannot reach offshore operators and may be contrary to U.S. treaty obligations under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

The United States does allow an exception for account deposit wagering on horse races over the Internet.  These types of bets may also be placed at off track wagering parlors and on a type of vending machine.  In December 2011 the United States Department of Justice issued an opinion on internet gaming.  The opinion deals specifically with lottery tickets, it opens the door for states to allow Internet poker and other forms of online betting that do not involve sports. Many states are interested in online gambling as a way to raise tax revenue.

California wasted no time in introducing legislation.  However, as of 2016, no state legislation has been enacted. 

Opponents of Internet Gaming view easy access to gambling in one's home may lead to more personal bankruptcies for consumers of all ages. Parents may have little control even with the most advanced software protections.

The greatest concern comes from the perceived inability of State and Federal Regulators, law enforcement, banking regulators and the credit card and gaming industries  to protect the consumer from criminal abuse.  Moreover, of the industries vulnerability to money laundering. 

Lawmakers and regulators  must analyze and give serious consideration to approve or deny a proposed method of authorization and regulation of internet poker. 

The regulations of other jurisdictions are provided in order to identify options that have potential to work in California.  Currently, jurisdictions that regulate internet poker are the countries of United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy, Isle of Man, Alderney, Gibraltar and Malta.  These regulations are in related items for your review.

California regulators and lawmakers must also consider a number of other issues as well as impacts to the welfare of the public:

  • Does IGRA apply since internet poker is not limited to Indian lands?

  • Will tribes be subject to licensure under the same regulatory constraints as card casinos?

  • If the legislature were to limit participation to card casinos and compacted Indian tribes, does this create an unconstitutional classification?

  • Would expanding participation beyond card casinos and compacted Indian tribes impede the commercial success of internet poker?

  • Should the legislature consider the model used in Sweden and authorize the Lottery to offer internet poker?