Jose Luis Correa, better known as Lou Correa, was born on January 24, 1958, in Anaheim, California. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from California State University, Fullerton, and his Master of Business Administration (MBA) and J.D. from the University of California, Los Angles(UCLA). He currently resides in Santa Ana, California with his wife, Esther Correa, and their four children.
Correa worked as an investment banker, real estate broker, and college instructor before beginning his career in politics. In 1996 Correa took the plunge into politics with a run as the Democratic nominee for the California State Assembly. In a close race, Correa lost to Republican incumbent Jim Morrissey. In 1998 he ran against Morrissey a second time and succeeded in winning his seat in the Assembly.
While serving in the California State Assembly, Correa chaired several committees, including the Committee on Business and Professions; the Select Committee on Mobile Homes; the Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee; and the Select Committee on MCAS El Toro Reuse.
Correa was re-elected to the Assembly the following two terms, and then was forced to leave office in 2004 due to California’s term limits law which restricts Assembly members to serving three terms. Correa went on to run for the Orange County Board of Supervisors, where he was elected to represent Orange County’s First District.
In 2006 Correa campaigned and was elected to the California State Senate, representing the 34th District. He was re-elected in 2010. During his time in the California State Senate Correa worked to support public safety, mental healthcare services, taxpayer equity, and access to high education.
As chairman of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee Correa was tasked with screening all gambling measures in the State of California. Correa believed that online poker needed to be legalized and regulated in the state of California.
With the support of the California Online Poker Association (COPA), Correa started his push for online poker in 2011 with online poker bill SB 40, but the bill never got off the ground. In 2013 Correa authored and introduced SB 678, known as the Authorization and Regulation of Internet Poker and Consumer Protection Act of 2013. The bill set out to improve the California economy by legalizing, regulating, and taxing, online poker. Other forms of online gambling would remain illegal. The bill was introduced but never passed.
In 2014, Correa introduced SB 1366, The Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2014. The 2014 bill was nearly the same as the 2013 bill and also sought to legalize and regulate online poker in the state. Unfortunately, the bill was shelved when time ran out in the legislative session. When speaking of this decision to pull the bill, Correa said, “Internet poker is an important public policy. We need to make sure it’s done right.”
Regulating online poker proves to be especially difficult in California due to the vast number of competing interests. Tribal casinos, card clubs, online operators, and other casino groups all want their interests met.
Additionally, Las Vegas Sands Corporation’s Sheldon Adelson is financially backing lobbyists to oppose any legislation introduced in California that would legalize online poker. If online poker were legalized in California it would prove to be major competition to Las Vegas casinos, which is against Adelson’s best interests.
Correa termed-out of the California State Senate in November 2014 without having passed the online poker legislature that he had fought so vigorously for. California Assemblyman Mike Gatto is continuing Correa’s effort to legalize online poker in California. Gatto introduced an updated online poker bill titled The Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2015 (AB 9).
In 2015 Correa announced his candidacy for United States Congress in 2016, saying, “I am humbled and honored that so many of my friends and neighbors have asked me to run for Congress. I accept your nomination. No one will work harder for you than me.”
One thing is for sure, online-poker lovers would be very pleased to see online-poker advocate Lou Correa in the Senate come 2016.