California Online Poker Debate Continues


More consensus necessary, claims CTBA

The legalization of online poker in the US state of California is definitely gaining momentum, and the debate between interested parties has become fiercer than ever. This week, one of the confronted organizations launched a media campaign in support of Sen. Lou Correa's proposed bill SB40, whereas the measure's opponents called for a slow-down in order to achieve a more considered and consensual approach.

It was the California Online Poker Association, backed by the Morongo and San Manuel bands of Indians as well as many land card rooms, that started a radio and TV campaign with ads that strive to help pass the Correa bill. The ad was created thanks to the fact that the Legislature begins its final month of business for the year in October, so if the bill is not pushed by that time, it will have to be back to the debate only in the next legislative season.

The advertisement notes: "Unfortunately, nurses, police, fire and services for the poor and disabled will all be cut again if California doesn't find $4 billion in new revenue by December. There is a solution. By approving online poker, California has the ability to tap $250 million in new money immediately and billions in years to come." The audience is also urged to "tell the politicians in Sacramento to authorize online poker now. California needs the money and Californians need the jobs."

On the other side, the California Tribal Business Alliance has appealed for less haste and more thought on the legalization issue Its chairman, Robert H. Smith, published a letter on Sept. 13, asking the Legislature not to act on Internet gambling in the remaining weeks of the session.

"Even though there have been hearings on the matter of intrastate Internet poker, many fiscal, legal, technical and policy related questions must be resolved before adoption of any intrastate Internet gaming legislation," Smith claimed, adding: "There are numerous stakeholders who stand to be irreparably harmed should legislation be 'ram-rodded' through this legislative year and this surely would be a disservice to ALL Californians, Tribal and Non-Tribal, alike.

"For these reasons, we believe the Legislature should not take any action on intrastate Internet poker legislation during the final month of the legislative year and should instead opt to utilize the interim to work with all interested parties to develop a consensus bill."

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