Hopes that poker may be legalised in the state of California this year are fading, according to a report in the publication Capitol Weekly, which cites tribal differences and political timing as the negative influences at work.
This week the newspaper reported that California Senate leader Darrell Steinberg was not hopeful that such a proposal would make it through the political mill as the legislature headed into it's final month of the current session.
Asked at a press conference for his opinion, Steinberg reportedly said: "I don't think it should be taken up in the last four weeks. I think it is a legitimate idea for consideration. I only have one question when I hear a proposal like that: how much money for the state General Fund? It's all I want to know. You know, is it two, three hundred million dollars? If it is, I'd consider it. But I think it's going to take more than four weeks to analyze that kind of proposal and the potential economic benefits."
Complicating the situation are tribal differences of opinion on an initiative by the Morongo Indian band, working with several major Californian card clubs, to legalise poker. Other Indian bands with gambling interests have been approached with the Morongo proposal, a five page draft bill which suggests that a centralised, online poker website would be available to online players within California's borders.
The consortium would have an exclusive right to offer online poker, and all Californian Indian tribes and card clubs would be eligible to be members. The bill is apparently not specific regarding percentage cuts in the venture.
This week the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians commenced a counter-initiative, writing to other tribes to flag its opposition to online poker since proposals first surfaced late last year out of concerns for the far-reaching legal, political and policy consequences of an expansion of this magnitude. The Pechangas' interest is not solely moral – it operates a thriving 2 000 slot machine casino in Temecula.
Backing up the letter, the Pechanga released the results of an independent survey by EMC Research which it had commissioned, showing that a poll of 802 randomly selected California voters conducted August 9-13 this year, revealed that 61 percent of respondents opposed legalising online poker in California. This included 44 percent who were "strongly opposed." Only 36 percent were in favour.
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