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California Lawmakers Hear Argument on Internet Poker

February 10, 2010 (CAP Newswire) – A California legislative committee on Tuesday formally heard a proposal to permit online poker in that state. The hearing was the first step towards a plan by a group of tribes and card rooms to create an intrastate Internet gambling network that exists within the rules of the UIGEA, the United States’ national online gambling regulations.

“While there is no active bill in the Legislature, the issue packed a state Senate governmental affairs hearing in arguments over whether California should cash in on hundreds of millions of dollars in currently illegal online bets made by as many as 1 million Californians a year,” writes Peter Hecht at the Sacramento Bee. Read that article here.

“We feel the games should be controlled by the tribes and the state — and taxed,” the article quoted Robert Martin, chairman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the Southern California-based casino tribe that began the movement to regulate online poker last year.

This idea, however, is not welcome by all tribes in the state. “We simply do not agree with the consequences of authorizing intrastate Internet poker,” said Mark Macarro, chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, in an article today also written by Peter Hecht. Read it here.

The plan does have some support from California lawmakers, though. California State Sen. Roderick Wright, chairman of the committee that held yesterday’s hearing, was quoted as supported the idea of taxing online poker, since it already exists and that revenue stream is being missed out on the state, which could certainly use the revenue. “I think we’ve got to do something,” he said. “But I don’t know what that is yet.”

The main piece of research for the hearing was last weeks’ study by a consulting firm that concluded that Internet poker could “generate $536 million in sales – and $53.6 million in revenue with a 10 percent state fee – for California’s 2010-11 budget,” again according to Hecht’s article.

In another article, Senator Wright qualifies his optimism by stating that, if a plan to fully legalize online poker does get created, it will almost certainly be controversial and most likely will have to go to the courts to be approved. “Clearly, whatever we do will end up in court,” Wright said in an article in the Desert Sun. Read that article here.