CALIFORNIA STATE RUN ONLINE POKER DRAWING INTEREST

01 August 2007

The Internet Gaming Enthusiast are hoping to qualify for ballot:

SACRAMENTO — The state could be in the Internet poker business next year, if a petition drive catches on.

A proposed initiative to create a state-owned Internet poker game drew attention Tuesday from the existing gambling community, including Indian casino tribes, and support from independent experts.

Nelson Rose, a professor and attorney at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa said “It’s silly for the state not to get into the business.” “Billions of dollars are being spent on the game here, and the state isn’t getting one penny.”

California is the world’s online poker capital, analysts said. The government is missing out by not legalizing, regulating and taxing it.

Rose also said “ultimately California is going to legalize Internet Poker.” Rose who is a nationally known gambling expert also said “he is uncertain whether the new proposed initiative is the vehicle.”

The proposal would allow Indian casinos and other gambling establishments to set up revenue-sharing deals, which would serve as an incentive to wealthy tribes to gather voter signatures needed to put the measure on the February ballot.

Initiative supporters must collect about 430,000 signatures by the end of the year to qualify the measure for the ballot.

Garry South, a consultant to the California Tribal Business Alliance, which is made up of some of the tribes who own the largest casinos, said “We will look at the initiative and discuss it.”

Even card rooms — who want to attract more players — have expressed interest.
Aides to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who negotiates gambling compacts with tribes, declined comment.

The proposed initiative would order the state to establish a state-owned Internet poker site within 150 days of the proposal’s adoption, lays out game rules, and restricts players to being at least 21 years of age.

The measure says “the state may enter into revenue and player base sharing agreements with other states, localities and California federally recognized Indian tribes.”

An attorney representing several casino operating tribes not part of the tribal alliance, was skeptical, Howard Dickstein said “ An operation such as the one outlined by the initiative would be an extremely ambitious and complex project.”

Dickstein and other experts foresee possible court battles among gambling stakeholders. Federal law also is fuzzy on the issue of state-run Internet poker sites.

A maverick online gambling enthusiast who authored the measure, Anthony “Tuff Fish” Sandstrom said “He included what he hopes will be a further incentive for passage, a relatively small stream of money from “net revenues” to cities and counties to fix local roads.”