California’s racetracks want a place at the table in the discussion of legalizing online poker, a discussion that has so far only included card clubs and gaming tribes.
Last month the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, through lobbyist Robyn Black, issued a statement demanding to be included in discussions, something that has so far been opposed by some of the more powerful gaming tribes. It has threatened to take the issue to court if it must.
Bills introduced earlier this year by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer and Senator Lou Correa and later allowed to die locked out the racetracks. Jones-Sawyer plans to introduce a new bill next year that would include the racetracks, but Correa was forced from office by term limits.
Black, who was interviewed by PokerNews.com, predicted that a bill would be adopted next year, or never will. Previous efforts, including a bill by former Senator Rod Wright, included the racetracks. Wright was forced to resign after being convicted of eight felony counts.
According to Black, “Some tribes remain reluctant but I think a growing number of tribal interests realize that they will not get internet poker in California until they allow horse racing.” She added, “There are a number of tribes that have expressed to me that they are perfectly comfortable with horse racing being included, but there remain a few powerful tribes that still don’t want to see horseracing included.”
Black tossed out a challenge: “There is no legal basis to keep horse tracks out. That’s just the way the tribes want it. To want to artificially limit competition in the internet poker space… It would be the same as us saying we have exclusivity over the internet so you can’t be on the internet.”