New round for legalizing Internet poker in California
A lawmaker and a group of California Indian tribes are racing to have the state Legislature consider legalizing Internet poker here before they are preempted by the federal government adopting its own plan.
Sen. Louis Correa (D-Santa Ana) said he introduced Senate Bill 40 on Monday. The measure would allow select tribes and others to run state-sanctioned Internet poker games, with a cut of the action going to state coffers.
"People play offshore now. All of that money goes offshore," Correa said. "What we’re trying to do is take a whole exploding industry that is illegal (in California) and make it legal and tax it to fund state services."
He said the legislation is backed by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, which operates a casino in San Bernardino County, and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, which has a casino in Cabazon.
However, Correa acknowledged that some other tribes have already called him to voice concerns about the proposal, which critics say potentially could let a few tribes run Internet games that would take customers away from brick-and-mortar casinos.
That opposition, and the threat of some Indian tribes to withhold payments to the state from slot machines if Internet poker is allowed, helped derail a similar measure introduced last legislative session by Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood).
-- Patrick McGreevy