New Internet poker bill a poor bet, opponents say

A Manassas, Va., man plays poker on his computer connected to an Internet gaming site.
(Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty Images)

State Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) has introduced a bill to legalize Internet poker in California, but opponents are betting the controversial proposal won’t be acted on in the coming three weeks before the Legislature adjourns for the year.

Correa took a placeholder bill, SB 678, and amended it Monday to allow state-sanctioned online poker games for Californians to be operated by card clubs or Native American tribes that run casinos.

“These amendments are the product of ongoing discussions with a broad coalition of California Indian gaming and non-gaming tribes who have participated in an inclusive and transparent process over the past several months,” Correa said in a statement.


Internet poker bills have been introduced for three years in California but none of them advanced to the governor’s desk, largely because of disagreements between tribes about who should be able to operate the websites.

Some tribes have opposed measures that would allow card clubs and horse-racing groups to operate Internet sites that they see as competing with their brick-and-mortar casinos.

Correa said his bill has the support of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, which operates a casino in Highland, but it is opposed by others including the California Tribal Business Alliance.

David Quintana, a spokesman for the alliance, predicted the that Correa bill will not be acted on this year. “That bill is not going to move,” he said.

Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) chairs the Senate committee that would hear gambling bills, and he has not scheduled a hearing for any measure, including one of his own.



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