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Legal Internet poker in California on hold until at least 2012

August 22, 2011 |  4:03 pm

The top Democrat in the state Senate is shelving talks to legalize Internet poker in California this year, saying that although the issue “has merit,” there isn’t time to deal with it before the legislative calendar concludes next month.

A high-stakes, big-money fight has been waged for months in the Capitol, with a coalition of card clubs and Indian gaming tribes on one side and an alliance of competing Indian tribes on the other.

Already, TV and radio ads are airing in Sacramento, in support of Web-based poker.

But Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) sent a letter to both sides Monday calling off the fight until 2012. He said a "well thought out" solution to the thorny issue can be reached, but not this year.

“There is time to get this right, and it is imperative that we do so,” Steinberg wrote in the letter. He asked the sides to work together and come back with a proposal in January. 

“It seems abundantly clear the issue is here to stay,” he wrote.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento