From San Diego comes the story of an online poker player, Anthony Sandstrom aka "Tuff Fish" who has decided to do something about the legal restrictions on his favourite pastime and that great American game, poker.

This week the California secretary of state's office cleared Sandstrom to circulate petitions putting his proposed initiative on a statewide ballot, where voters could create an Internet poker gambling agency, reports MediaNews from Sacramento. The private initiative, which plans to present state government with 430 000 signatures by Christmas 2007, faces challenges from anti-online gambling opponents but Sandstrom is confident he can mobilise public opinion for his goals.

Among those flatly opposed are card rooms in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area, anti-gambling- Bodog Online Poker expansion activists and educators, who fear that success for Sandstrom may result in diversion and loss of state lottery funds.

The disarmingly frank Sandstrom acknowledges his initiative isn't aimed at solving major social problems.

"I am just a guy who wants to play poker at home when I don't feel like making an hour drive to a card room or casino," Sandstrom said on his Web site.

"I am going to make a mighty effort to make safe, legal, and accessible online poker possible."

The poker crusader hints at tax benefits for the state when he says that the proposal could provide money for the repair of potholes on city roads.

The wild card in the game is the Internet, opines MediaNews. By harnessing the reach of the Internet through his website, message boards and blogs Sandstrom is making his petition available as a download for supporters trying to collect signatures via the Internet.