This was one of the year's most expensive lobbying fights in the legislature. But amid a heated last-minute push in the final weeks of session, Senate President Darrell Steinberg released a letter that basically said: Chill out - let's take our time and do this right next year. Democratic Senator Rod Wright is one of the lawmakers working on the issue. He says the state could get hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue if it legalized, regulated and taxed online gaming.
Ben: "The only way you get anything is if a California taxpayer is honest about their online poker winnings."
Ben: "Which happens approximately what percent of the time?
Wright: "I don't know, probably zero-point-zero-zero."
But Wright says figuring out how to regulate and monetize online gaming in California is really difficult because of all the card players at the table.
Wright: "The horse-racing people believe they should get a carve-out. The tribes - many of them think it should just be theirs exclusively, without any tax, and it should just be granted to them by fiat. It's a challenge."
Wright says he hopes to see a bill introduced in the next couple months and passed by the time lawmakers adjourn next summer. The bill would cover not just poker but all online gaming. As for what the regulatory setup would look like, Wright says lawmakers and interest groups are still working that out.