On February 21, two motions were unveiled, the closing date to commence the new bills for the year, that will legalize playing poker online, allowing gamblers to play the game from anywhere they can access the internet. Last year similar effort was made but failed after the intense negotiations that occur between the lawmakers and tribal interest ended without both parties not coming into agreement with the final form of the complex legislation.
Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, the newly appointed chairman of the Senate Government Organization Committee said that “There are a lot of moving part,” the committee also has the jurisdiction over racing, horse and gambling, alone side other related issues. He also added that “We will but all hands on deck, and I believe we will come through.”
There are huge amount of money involved.
According to the report prepared by Academicon, a marketing research, PokerScout and consulting firm that keep track of gaming activities, reported that about $263 million would be generated in revenue in the first year once Internet Poker in California is pass in to law and then about $384 million will be make within a decade.
The estimated figure the Senate committee reveals that the numbers of online poker players in California is between 750,000 to 1 million and once legalization process is over the numbers is likely to increase. These figures includes those players that have registered to partakes in states that allow poker gaming like New Jersey and Nevada or in other states where online poker or other online games are not regulated.
Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles bill, AB 2291 was supported by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, the Pechanga Band of Luiseño and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuila Indians .
While on the other bill, Correa’s SB 1366, is supported by the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians runs the River Rock Casino in Alexander Valley, also the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria that runs the Graton Resort and Casion in Rohnert Park, the United Auburn Indian Community, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians and others.
The two bills are by law Internet poker, but there are differences in their eligibility requirements, security rules, lunching and licensing costs, among other several items.
For example in the Jones-Sawyer bill an operator is expected to make one-time payment of $5 million once the license is approved where as the Correa bill stated that an operator fee is $10 million with an extra fees to be determined, depending on the level of licensing.
The cost of applying for Internet poker license is left open in both bills. In last year legislation that was rejected, the fee for applying for online poker was set at a minimum of $1 million. Both bills also put aside the license fee and background investigations for person those have operate poker games in person on their own tribal lands for a long time.
Both bills say they both face major concessions.
On February 21, three tribal chairmen – Mark Macarro of Pechanga, Jeff Grubbe of Agua Caliente and Mashall McKay of Yocah Dehe wrote to other tribal leaders that “As most of us are aware that the exact language of an introduced bill rarely if ever is what makes it through the process.” They also added that “We fully expect the bill to keep progressing as keep mounting more effort,” the three chairmen are among those that are in support of the Jones-Sawyer bill.
One of the tribal spokesmen express that a lot of efforts have been put in place, in part after last year’s negotiations.
One of the sponsors of the Correa bill and spokesman for the San Manuel tribe, Jacob Coin said that “The proceedings that have been going on in the Senate has built the longest record on this matter and is unmatched.” “The issues on ground have certainly be debated, researched and discussed, that show how important and serious the policy is. The present reiteration is based upon the foundation of all the efforts of last year.”
Dry Creek tribal officials said they don’t have anything to comment based on the legislation. Graton Rancheria spokesperson referred calls to Station Casinos, their Las Vegas-based casino manager. The Station spokesperson also doesn’t have anything to comment.
For the past five years the Senate has been overseeing the online gaming legislation because of Senator Rod Wright, D-Inglewood the previous chairman of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee and a specialist in the gaming legislation.
But it’s uncertain if Sen. Rod will be part of this year bill negotiation. In January 28, he was find guilty of eight felony charge of voter fraud and perjury for lying about his place of residence when he ran for office and registered to vote over a period of years.
He was relieved as the chairman of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee while Correa take over his sit – though he still remain in the Senate awaiting his May 16 sentencing – he may be sentenced to a maximum of eight years and four months in prison.
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