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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

Intrastate Online Gaming Bill Introduced in California Legislature

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The movement to bring intrastate online gambling to California recently took a giant leap forward, courtesy of State Senator Roderick Wright. With his introduction of a marked-up SB 1485 to the California legislature with the intention of moving it quickly through the voting process, Wright has ignored efforts to put an indefinite hold on the process by Indian tribes. The issue is now moving quickly toward a vote in a state that is financially strapped and in desperate need of the revenue that could be provided by intrastate gaming.

It was in 2008 that the issue of intrastate online poker and other games first came into discussions, courtesy of a California representative that is no longer in office. Talks resumed on the issue in 2009, but many of the Indian tribes involved in gaming compacts with the state and federal government squashed the idea that intrastate gaming would garner much support, or that it would even be legal considering the complicated nature of tribal agreements.

But Wright considered the options, recognized the utter need for state revenue and the other benefits of bringing regulated online gaming to California, and vowed to push the issue. At a March 2010 Global iGaming Summit & Expo in Montreal, he announced his intention to introduce the bill as soon as possible.

Less than two months later, SB 1485 was marked up and introduced to the California legislature. The Internet Gambling consumer Protection and Public-Private Partnership Act of 2010 looks to legalize internet poker and take at least 20 percent of the revenue for state revenue, which the L.A. Times reports is estimated at tens of millions of dollars. The purpose is to lead the upwards of 1.5 million California residents who currently gamble on websites based overseas into the state.

The legislation will also implement controls on the gaming system to monitor for fraud and corruption, and underage gamblers, as well as provide assistance for those suspected of gambling addiction. Protections for consumers are detailed in the legislation.

Companies that want to participate in the regulated gambling system in California would submit proposals to the state’s Department of Justice and compete for five-year contracts for up to three companies. Licensing fees from those contracts could add up to $9 million annually to the struggling state, and the revenue-sharing agreements could tack on another $1 billion, according to Wright.

It should be noted that the Morongo Band of Mission Indians Native American Rights Fund were a prime contributor to Wright’s 2008 election campaign, and Morongo is a staunch supporter, along with Commerce Casino and other gaming businesses, of intrastate online poker.

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