One of the biggest forces in the campaign to regulate online poker in California (and other states) has kicked off the new year with an ambitious new hire.

Patrick Dorinson, formerly a spokesman for the Morongo Band of Mission Indians (as well as the the California Online Poker Association), will now help lead the poker advocacy group Poker Voters of America as executive director.

“When Patrick became available we jumped at the opportunity to have him join our team,” Melanie Brenner, Poker Voters of America’s president, said. “We are excited to have his knowledge, communications skills and strong media relationships as we push for intrastate legislation in 2011.”

“I am excited and honored to join Poker Voters and to assist them in their efforts both here in California and nationally,” Dorinson said.

The group emphasizes that its activity is nationwide, but given Dorinson’s specific experience in California, as well as the evidence of political desire for regulated online poker there, it can be expected that the group will base a lot of its activity in the Golden State.

Dorinson is effectively switching to an opposing team here, and it’s hard to say how that’ll play out. Whether the groups can work together, and with California Senator Rod Wright, to regulate online poker in Calfiornia remains to be seen.

But Wright could use the support; he introduced at least two such failed bills last year alone. The failures were attributed to lack of coordination between the tribes and the political leaders. This new leadership chance could potentially bridge that gap.  

Word is still out on whether new California governor Jerry Brown will be in favor of, or opposed to, regulated online gambling. But, given his reputation as a progressive politician, and the economic crisis he faces, hope is running high that he’ll support the cause.

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