Wednesday August 8,2012 : CALIFORNIA POLITICIANS PESSIMISTIC ON INTERNET POKER LEGALISATION
Unlikely this year, says Senate President
With an August 31 deadline for new legalization in California looming, it looks increasingly as if getting an intrastate internet poker legalization bill though will be a mission impossible, given the diverse views on the issue from a myriad interested parties.
The State Senate President, Democrat Darrell Steinberg – a supporter of legalization – confirmed this Tuesday, telling reporters that passage was still possible, but that he didn't see it happening in the last four weeks of the current session.
The main obstacle appears to be the opposition of some tribal groups to the measure proposed by state Sen. Rod Wright, which has yet to even make it out of the committee stage despite being introduced yet again in February this year.
Steinberg has played an active role in trying to bring together the diverse requirements of tribes and casinos, card clubs, horse tracks and other entities that have a stake in the potentially lucrative business of internet poker, but with limited success.
The Senate President told reporters that there is divided opinion among the various tribes, with some supporting the proposal, others opposing the Wright-Steinberg bill but agreeing with the idea of legalization, and others rejecting completely the concept of legalised online poker.
“I’m not going to break a pick on this issue,” Steinberg said. “But I’m willing to see it through if there is a little more consensus.”
Local media reports indicate that the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, which operates a casino, supports the Wright bill. Steven Stallings, a Rincon council member, said he thinks there is still a chance at a deal before the session ends, and revealed that his tribe is trying to work out acceptable bill language with the California Online Poker Association, which opposes the present version of the Wright-Steinberg bill.
The association’s main members are the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, who have allied themselves with California card rooms in an effort to corner the market.
In related news Tuesday, the California Tribal Business Alliance, a coalition of California Indian tribes, appealed to the state Legislature not to rush any Internet gambling bill through in the final weeks of the current session.
In a letter to lawmakers, the Alliance wrote: "Last minute, back-room brokered deals on an issue that is vital to our tribal governments is the type of action that we must, and will, oppose until the final minute of this legislative session."
The group supports legalising Internet poker but opposes Sen. Rod Wright's Senate Bill 1463.