Jason Somerville, a professional poker player and winner of a WSOP bracelet, appeared on the news show CNBC to discuss the merits of legalizing online poker sites and rooms, as well as regulating them. This was done at a crucial time, as California is still debating whether or not to legalize the popular card game on the internet. Somerville discussed the merits with CNBC’s Tyler Mathisen, hoping that more people learned and were informed about the positive effect it could have for California.
California Lawmakers and their Poker Face
With the debate of whether to legalize online poker or not, the California lawmakers have been looking in-depth at the possibility for over two years; with the actual movement to legalize going on for over ten years. The last two years have been very important, as legislation seems to be moving toward a decision and actually getting them voting on the Assembly Bill 2863.
The assembly recently postponed the vote on the bill until Thursday, so we will see which way the lawmakers lean.
Somerville Putting Things into Perspective
Being a professional player that enjoys playing online and is sponsored by PokerStars, Somerville spoke about the issues many players face when participating on an unregulated poker site.
“I personally have lost tens of thousands of dollars on unregulated online poker sites that have just vanished in the middle of the night. I think it’s the government’s responsibility to tax and regulate it.”
Just like the legalization and regulation of other similar activities like betting on fantasy sports, horse races, and even the lottery, poker should be included. James Butler, executive director of the California Coalition Against Gambling Expansion, is against the proposal, believing that is would actually increase problems that he see’s associated with gambling, like crime and unemployment.
A counter-argument made is that if they shouldn’t ban one type of gambling when many others are allowed. Another argument made for the legalization of poker is that it is a game that combines skill with luck, while most casino games and the lottery are based purely on luck. The economic impact of legalizing is still up for debate of whether it will be negative or positive when compared with social costs. It will depend on the legislators to make the final decision of whether to legalize online poker or not.