Land gambling execs marshal some powerful allies
The Poker Players Alliance attack on the California-based Commerce Casino for its opposition to federally legalised online poker continued to generate a backlash at the weekend, with company directors Tom Malkasian and Haig Papaian defending their positions, and marshalling some heavyweight support from major gambling groups like Bicycle Casino, Hawaiian Gardens Casino and Hollywood Park Casino.
Tin a statement, the gambling chiefs noted with concern that card players have allegedly been misled by ‘special interest groups receiving funds from illegal offshore gaming operators'.
The statement claims: "Poker players deserve to know the real facts so let us be clear: We support online poker and we are working hard to make sure it will benefit all Americans. America's poker community should be united in opposing the Frank legalization that would ship jobs, revenue and taxes beyond our communities. We need to work together to keep American dollars at home."
The statement goes on to inform readers that there have so far been more than 45 federal Internet gambling bills proposed and 60 state bills in the U.S.
"We can either fight to ensure that poker players' interests are legitimately protected, or allow illegal foreign operators, who are siphoning millions of American dollars out of this country, to dominate the U.S. Market," it continues.
"As owners and managers of the state's tax-paying, law-abiding, regulated card rooms, we employ more than 20,000 Californians; generate millions in salaries and benefits; goods and services purchased from local businesses; and tax revenues to our local communities and the state.
"In 2008, the California Public Policy Institute estimated that 70 percent of Californians were Internet users. According to another study in 2009, Californians wager an estimated $13.4 billion annually. That makes California the largest Internet gaming market in the world, and without state legalization to protect it, critically-needed billions will be captured by offshore and out-of-state operators… never to return."
Californian card rooms have been on the leading edge of establishing poker's prominence on a worldwide basis for more than a century, the statement claims, adding that the Golden State's track record for introduction of new games and technology is unmatched.
The statement then appears to attack Nevada casinos, offshore companies and Washington insiders, asserting that these entities do not want California to benefit from its own market.
"Our economic future is not their concern. We support free enterprise, fair competition and the principle that what plays in California, stays in California," the statement vows.
"We oppose the Frank bill because it would authorize all types of gaming. We strongly support poker-only legalization. California lawmakers should be the first to bring an illegal enterprise under legal supervision, provide needed consumer protections and capture revenue that can benefit our state first.
"California must act before the end of the year to protect its own economy – to keep market predators out and California dollars in. We believe poker players, informed with the facts, will support our stand," it concludes.