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Senate supports review of California gambling industry, related taxes

Senate supports review of California gambling industry, related taxes
Chips and cards go around the gambling table at the Commerce Casino. The Legislature might look at regulations and taxes involving the gambling industry in the state. (Ric Francis / Associated Press)

SACRAMENTO -- California officials would review the growing gambling industry in the state, looking at whether regulations promote job creation and examine the possibility of imposing new taxes on the activity, under a bill approved Monday by the state Senate.

Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) introduced SB 601, which would have a gaming policy advisory committee made up equally of gambling industry officials and the general public look at issues including whether current regulations impede economic growth.

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The panel would also look at the effect of card club rules on state and local tax and fee revenue. Yee said there may be room for non-Indian gambling operations to help the state budget more.

"Despite the good news we've seen in budget projections, I think it's always worth looking at new revenue sources for our state," Yee said. The bill next goes to the state Assembly for consideration.

The bill was opposed by the California Coalition Against Gambling Expansion, which saw it as a possible effort to relax regulations.

"SB 601 should be amended to require a balanced look at the laws and regulations governing gambling, including not only their impeding effect on the industry, but the social and economic costs inevitably related to gambling expansion among California families and communities -- e.g., increased debts, foreclosures and bankruptcies, divorces, suicides, etc.," the coalition said in a letter to lawmakers.

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