Posted 2/24/11 : CNIGA decides to go with the Correia bill
According to reports this week in the Fresno Bee, California state senator Lou Correia is winning the race for the intrastate legalization of online poker.
Correia's SB40 proposal is vying with Senator Rod Wrights’s SB45, which has legalization as its goal but a different approach.
The big boost for Correia came from the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, a major tribal grouping representing more than two dozen casino and non-casino tribes.
Jerome Encinas, director of government affairs, said that CNIGA had voted to endorse Senate Bill 40 as preferable to the competing measure, because Correa's proposal is specific to online poker and calls for operators seeking a licence to be existing California businesses or tribes.
The report notes that the vote for SB40 was not unanimous, but carried. "We had some tribes that were concerned, but at the end of the day it passed," Encinas said.
In further developments, the state's Senate Governmental Organization Committee has scheduled an informational hearing on the subject.
Consultants estimate that U.S. citizens place billions in bets each year on websites operated offshore or outside the nation's boundaries. By legalising online poker, California could regulate the games to ensure their honesty and the state, rather than illegal offshore companies, could benefit financially from the activity, Correia contends.
SB40 also has the support of the California Online Poker Association (COPA), a coalition of California tribal casinos and card room operators, which earlier this year released an economic impact study concluding that the legalization of an online poker system will generate $1 billion in state revenues in the next decade for the state and create 1,100 new jobs.
Under SB 40, all federally recognised California tribal governments and card room clubs would be eligible to apply for a license to operate online poker.
COPA claims that a statewide survey conducted by Tulchin Research revealed that nearly two thirds (66 percent) of Californians support the establishment of online poker to help balance the troubled state budget. 84 percent prefer a state-regulated online poker system that keeps jobs and revenue in California over a program run by the federal government where revenues go to Washington D.C., other states or offshore.