Wednesday May 8,2013 : NEW ONLINE POKER INITIATIVE FORMING AMONG CALIFORNIA TRIBES
Tribal gambling leaders confirm that private meetings on the possibilities are on-going
The US state of California, where online poker legalization drives are currently on-going, could soon see a new and unexpected initiative coming from tribal gaming interests in the state.
The Press-Enterprise news agency reports from Sacramento that execs from some of the state's most powerful and successful tribal casinos have been meeting privately to hammer out a proposal to legalise online poker.
Tribal leaders and others confirmed the discussions to the agency on Tuesday.
Repeated attempts to legalise online poker in California have run afoul of tribal opposition, denying legalization to one of the most populous states in the Union.
However, recent developments on legalization in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, the launch of the first Nevada-licensed online poker site, and the possibility of a federal bill have persuaded the tribes that a more positive approach would be beneficial.
Mark Macarro, chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, told an online gaming conference last week:
“Tribes are primed right now to begin moving it, to begin working with state legislators to see something to fruition.”
The Pechanga band and others opposed past proposals to legalise online poker because of fears that online gambling would undercut tribes’ casinos. Macarro, though, said the tribe’s position on that issue “is evolving.”
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, is also part of the tribal talks. Barry Brokaw, an Agua Caliente lobbyist, said “there has been a great commonality of purpose” among tribes and online poker.
“A lot of those tribes have been working together and we’ve made strides,” Brokaw told the same gaming conference. “I think there is a possibility that something may develop pretty soon, and we can have some serious discussions with lawmakers in the building and see what we can come up with.”
Press-Enterprise reports that the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians has also been involved. San Manual, along with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, was a member of the now-defunct group COPA that sponsored an online poker proposal last year.
Jerry Levine, an attorney working with the San Manuel band, said he thinks the tribes can craft a unified proposal.
Press-Enterprise points out that in the more than three years since some tribes and card clubs began lobbying lawmakers to legalise online poker, there have been hundreds of hours of public hearings and private negotiations. Yet there has not been a single legislative vote.
State Senators Wright and Correa have again this session introduced separate legalization bills, and this week the former politician clashed with Leslie Lohse, chairwoman of the California Tribal Business Alliance, on the issue, claiming that her opposition to online poker was based on a misunderstanding of relevant law and the constitution of California.