Thursday June 14, 2012 : HOPES FADE FOR CALIFORNIA ONLINE GAMBLING LEGALISATION (Update)
Too many interests pulling in different directions scuppered Tuesday's legalization attempt
More details are emerging on yesterday's abrupt removal of the Californian online poker legalization bill from the agenda of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee before it could be debated.
A disappointed Sen. Rod Wright, chairman of the committee and sponsor of Senate Bill 1463, said late Tuesday night that he would continue negotiations to try and reach a compromise on legalising Internet poker in California, but he estimated the odds of success this year are "less than 50-50."
"We’re going to try and work some more and see what we can do," Wright said. "We will keep talking. But it’s a tough go."
Sen. Darrel Steinberg, who was a co-sponsor on the bill, appeared to have lost hope as well, commenting that he was unsure if an agreement is possible.
“There is fear and there is opportunity,” Steinberg said of the talks. "If there’s no deal, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.”
Legislature observers said the measure did not have enough votes to get out of the Governmental Organisation Committee, and that prompted Wright to withdraw the bill to the surprise of the audience at the hearing, many of whom had travelled some distance to be present.
Wright told the LA Times that different groups want different things in the bill that conflict, and some Indian tribes that operate casinos appear firmly against legalising Internet poker because of fear it will take away their business. The senator said some card clubs that provide poker in casinos don’t want horse-racing tracks and other newcomers to the game to offer poker on the Web.
Wright said he had spent over two years working on the bill and trying to accommodate the many and diverse interests but that its future is now uncertain, as is the potential $200 million in annual state tax revenue it could have raised beginning 2014.
Sen. Lou Correa, who had earlier authored a rival bill, said he may resurrect his proposal.
The California legislative session ends August 31.