On Wednesday, the California State Assembly Governmental Organization Committee in California discussed the viability of online poker in the state, as two online poker bills have been floated before the legislature, Steven Stradbrooke of CalvinAyre.com reports.
Anita Lee, a state fiscal and policy analyst, described how online gambling has worked in three other states. Former Nevada Gaming Control Board chairman Mark Lipparelli noted how online gambling has worked successfully in his home state, calling it “nearly scandal-free.” He brushed aside money laundering concerns by stating that there were far more efficient avenues for laundering than online poker. He added that online gambling “provides materially greater protection” against money laundering than B&M casinos.
Gambling Compliance research director Chris Krafcik stated that U.S. online poker generated almost $1 billion in 2005, Stradbrooke notes. Krafcik added that in the three states where online poker is legal, $50 million in revenue was generated, and said he thought if online poker were available in California, the state could rake in $317 million in the first year and jump to $597 million by the fourth year.
Pechanga chairman Mark Macarro said that local tribes were getting on board, and acknowledging it was better to “design the bus rather than get run over by it.” United Auburn Indian Community chairman Gene Whitehouse said California should okay tribal-based online poker because the “regulators know the tribes and the tribes know poker.” He continued that California could bring in $800 million in tax revenue over five years.
But Morongo Band of Mission Indians chairman Robert Martin, unlike other Indian spokesmen, slammed the “bad actor” language in the 2291 online poker bill, calling it “a smokescreen designed to block a single vendor … to give a competitive advantage to others.” He wanted regulators to review all operators’ pre-2006 activities, to “shake them and see what falls out.”
Card club operators endorsed online gambling, with Hawaiian Gardens Casino chairman Ron Sarabi saying he thought online poker will have “significant positive impact” on card club and state tax revenue.
For a full rundown of the meeting, see Stradbrooke’s article here.