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Internet poker not likely a jackpot for state, Gov. Jerry Brown says

January 6, 2012 | 11:18 am


Gov. Jerry Brown is not betting that a proposal to legalize Internet poker in California will get the state out of its budget mess.

A group of casino operators, including some Indian tribes, has proposed that the state sanction gambling websites and say it could bring the state treasury $1.4 billion over 10 years.

Asked about the proposal when he announced his budget Thursday, Brown said he was not ready yet to show his hand on the issue of legalization.

"But I would be skeptical that there’s huge amounts of revenue in that, although there certainly could be some," Brown said during the news conference. His budget, which does not include Internet gambling, seeks to eliminate a threatened budget shortfall of more than $9 billion, but could result in deep cuts in school funding.

With some Indian tribes opposed to Internet poker as competition to their brick-and-mortar casinos, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) has pulled the two sides together in recent weeks in hopes of coming up with a compromise that could be considered this year, according to spokesman Mark Hedlund.

Steinberg is interested in making sure Internet gambling is regulated and sees the potential for it providing "hundreds of millions of dollars" to help the state budget, Hedlund said recently.


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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: A man plays internet poker, an activity that some casinos believe could help the state with its budget crisis. Credit: Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images