Tuesday, November 22, 2011 : CALIFORNIA TRIBAL BUSINESS ALLIANCE DOES NOT OPPOSE INTERNET POKER
Alliance official writes on intrastate legalization of online poker
Writing in the Sacramento Bee newspaper this weekend, Robert H. Smith – an official of the California Tribal Business Alliance – said that the organisation does not oppose the legalization of internet poker, but believed it was essential that the California Legislature researched the matter thoroughly and heard all opinions before moving on legalization that could "significantly alter" the gambling landscape in the state.
Smith referred to legalization moves in California that have generated tribal disagreement, not necessarily about legalization, but on concerns about "the unintended consequences of sloppy legalization and the appropriate way to head into the online gaming future."
He wrote that legalization stalled last year because the tribes felt that the proposals were not open or fair, and did not go far enough to protect tribal sovereignty, existing gaming compacts and tribal economies.
The opposition of some tribes to Bill SB40 was caused by the possibility that it would create a monopoly for the California Online Poker Association (a consortium of the Morongo and other tribes with Californian cardrooms), Smith observed.
"For the record, the California Tribal Business Alliance does not oppose the legalization of Internet poker," Smith wrote. "But we do believe it is critical for the California Legislature to exercise its due diligence and consult with tribal governments before moving forward with a policy that will significantly alter the gaming landscape in California, as well as impact agreements among tribal, state and local governments."
Warning that it would be imprudent to rush through legalization that still left unanswered questions, Smith laid out a series of principles on which his organisation would insist for any federal of intrastate legalization:
* There must be no compromise of the inherent rights of tribal governments, modifcation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act or undermining of existing tribal-state gaming compacts.
* Tribes must be allowed to accept wagers from persons not on Indian lands.
* Legislation must not limit tribal participation via targeted restrictions. In other words, not create a monopoly.
* Legalisation must be limited to Internet poker.
* Any new law must not permit play at Internet cafes, or allow players to withdraw winnings at brick-and-mortar casinos.
* Regulatory standards comparable to those required of Indian gaming must be enshrined.
* Legalisation laws must not allow foreign companies, their principals and contractors that violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act to participate.
* There should be no tax on Indian gaming.
* The federal Wire Act of 1961, which prohibits certain types of betting and wagering businesses, must be respected.
* Any new law must be based on realistic assumptions, including true costs and the length of time it will take to implement a regulatory regime and employ qualified regulatory personnel.
"I think we can all agree that any legalization of Internet poker must be methodical, fair, in the best interests of the state and provide adequate time for the regulatory structure to be implemented with stringent safeguards to protect the integrity of gaming," Smith concludes, saying that his organisation will work with all parties concerned within the parameters he had provided.