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ONLINE POKER CONFUSION
Posted 1/6/11 : "Just a misunderstanding," says PVA
The online poker legalisation initiatives in California featured in a Capitol Weekly article Wednesday pointing out that Assemblyman Jerry Hill was not, as the Poker Voters of America had allegedly claimed earlier, sponsoring one of three online poker legalising proposals currently circulating in the legislature.
The Capitol Weekly reports that the confusion arose from a story in a British gaming publication which said Hill was going to submit a bill.
Patrick Dorinson, a spokesman for the PVA explained that the confusion was simply a misunderstanding in the PVA's exchanges with a reporter from the respected eGaming Review.
The newspaper goes on to describe the series of events which led to Hill's name being associated with the bill.
Apparently some weeks ago former Assemblyman and pro-legalised poker political consultant Lloyd Levine (who was unsuccessful in launching a legalisation bill back in 2007) met with Hill, a member of the powerful Assembly Governmental Organisation Committee, responsible in each house for reviewing gaming bills.
At the meeting Hill was presented with a 32 page draft proposing the legalisation of online poker, which Hill subsequently had submitted to the House Legislative Counsel for review and rewrite into a format closer to what the Legislature could consider.
Hill is adamant that that he didn’t do this on behalf of the PVA, but instead simply wanted to make sure there was no confusion around the intentions of the language. The Assemblyman stressed that his staff had submitted for him, and not the PVA.
“They didn’t have enough information or research to present anything to me, so they went to Leg Counsel to get clear language,” Hill said. “We didn’t submit it for them. We submitted it for me. In order to evaluate an idea, you have to have language to look at.”
Interviewed by the Capitol Weekly, Levine confirmed the he has been consulting with Poker Voters of America, but that the eGaming story was “completely inaccurate.”
“It’s a British publication, and they’re not familiar with the Sacramento political process,” he claimed.
Hill revealed that the PVA had contributed guidelines that included a proposal to designate multiple “hub operators,” who would be authorised to offer Internet poker to California citizens. Each hub operator would need to be either “a holder of a current state gambling license to own or operate a land-based gambling entity” or “a federally recognized Indian tribe operating a gambling establishment pursuant to a tribal-state gaming compact.”
Referring to the reported two other proposals currently doing the rounds, Dorinson said he hoped the Levine proposal would help bring the proponents of competing bills to the negotiating table.
“We’ve now been at this for a couple of years now,” he said. “It’s long past time for all the parties to come together.”
There are currently two other bills in print that would legalise Internet poker in California, the Capitol Weekly reports: SB 40 by Sen. Lou Correa and SB 45 by Sen. Rod Wright. Both men carried similar bills unsuccessfully last year.
"The two bills vary significantly. Correa’s bill is sponsored by COPA. It is limited to poker, and while it does not offer an exclusive license to any particular group, it does appear to favor the role of tribes," opines the Weekly. "It also suggests that revenue from online poker would be exempt from state income taxes.
"The state Franchise Tax Board currently excludes casino “per capita” payments to tribal members if the person is a member of the tribe operating the casino and living on the same reservation where the casino is located."
Senator Wright’s opposing SB 45 does not mention whether tribes would be taxed or not, but emphasises the imperative that “...the state is not deprived of income tax revenues to which it would otherwise be entitled."
Levine told the Capitol Weekly that the bill he had submitted to Hill is substantially similar to that of Senator Wright, but has two key differences: Wright’s bill allows for the possibility of games besides poker, while the Poker Voters of America language is poker-only. It also only allows hub operators with prior experience with gaming - “A track, a tribe or a card room,” as he put it.
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