We wish there was better, more exciting news to report from last week’s online poker hearing in California. But, the state appears to be on the same slow road to regulation as before, with little or no new developments arising from the hearing.

At the hearing, Senator Lou Correa, sponsor of one of the competing online poker bills, said that online poker could generate $250 million for the state if regulated or taxed — “but only if it is passed before detrimental federal legislation locks the state out of the online poker market.”

If passed, that competing federal legislation would strip “California of potential jobs and revenue,” Correa said. He also emphasized the need to “protect consumers from fraud and theft which currently go unchecked at illegal, offshore online gambling Web sites.”

That all sounds great, but no real progress has been made, and the bill is still waiting for committee approval — although it has racked up an impressive list of supporters.

The powerful Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in Palm Springs doesn’t share Correa’s urgency, though, and it doesn’t support Correa’s bill. The tribe’s vice-chairman told the committee: “We foresee no successful action on this front in either 2011 or 2012.”

The California Tribal Business Alliance also testified against Correa’s bill, reports The Desert Sun.

“It is still crafted to benefit a select group,” said Leslie Lohse, vice-chairwoman of CTBA, who feels the bill’s designed to benefit big-spending casino corporations rather than California’s (slightly) more modestly funded local gaming tribes.

Racing industry weighs in
California’s two gaming bills are geared toward online poker, but the racing industry wants in, too, according to Bloodhorse.com’s excellent recap of the hearing.

“I think we want to be a part of the process,” said Bernie Thurman of Hollywood Park racing field at last week’s hearing. “We want to have an even playing field, to be at the table.”

“It’s imperative we get parity in this bill,” said the president of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club at the hearing. “It’s a double hit if we don’t. We will be heavily impacted by Internet poker.

“This is the most important piece of legislation to come up in a long time and I just urge you to keep parity for horse racing with Indian gaming and the card clubs.”

“We’re looking for a license to conduct online poker. That’s what we’re looking for,” added Robert Hartman of Golden Gate racing fields. “We need it for parity with the card clubs, for parity with the Indian casinos.”


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