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California Senator Talks about Internet Gambling

May 18, 2010 (CAP News Wire)Speaking at the Canadian iGaming Summit, GigSE (Global iGaming Summit and Expo), California Senator Rod Wright laid out some of his expectations for the legalization and regulation of Internet gambling in the Golden State.

According to Andrew Gellatly for GamblingCompliance Ltd., the senator expects to introduce a new bill in the state senate by the end of this month.  In the process, he expects to defy “tribal interests to sue if they believe their sovereignty is infringed by the measure,” Gellatly writes.

“California has 68 compact-registered Indian tribes playing class III games,” Wright added, acknowledging that there would certainly be resistance from the tribes, who themselves have opened argued about how Internet poker should be regulated in California.

“Our first argument will be whether or not playing online poker violates the compacts that were signed with those tribes – there is not even a unanimous opinion among the tribes themselves – so anything we do will have to go through the process of debating exclusivity and that could take two or three years,” Wright continued. “We will, in effect, initiate our own fact finding which could end up all the way in the Supreme Court.”

Wright has emerged as one of the state’s leading advocates for online gambling, having previously held an informational hearing on the topic in Sacramento a few months ago that lasted nine hours. According to the Gambling Compliance article, he currently has a number of his legislative assistants drafting the new bill’s details.

His plan signals a continuation of the trend for states to restrict online gambling to companies within their own borders: “Our leaning right now, I have to tell you, is to keep it to the people who are already in California, and regulate it with our justice department which has already shown they know how to do that.”

That attitude might seem to have big consequences on the online casino affiliate marketing industry, which tends to focus on the bigger, international online gaming brands. However, Wright said that he wouldn’t seek to shut down large operators already doing business in the state. “If our attempt is to shut the other people down then I think we will lose the fight,” he said.

Andrew Schneiderman, VP and General Counsel for Commerce Casino, underlined that point by adding: “The potential for federal legislation is bringing some urgency to California, and there’s a sense that if California does not move before the federal legislation goes into place, it will be a missed opportunity.” This according to the CasinoCity Times.