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Next Year for California Internet Poker?

Next Year for California Internet Poker?

Although the California legislature adjourned on September 13 without an internet poker bill advancing very far, some observers see the logjam possibly breaking next year.

Such a bill has been introduced three times now, but despite the 38 million residents who could make internet poker very profitable to the state and participants, tribal rivalry has killed the idea.

When the legislature adjourned, there were two rival bills left with no movement. Senator Roderick Wright, chairman of the Senate Government Organization Committee, introduced one. Senator Lou Correa authored another, and mirrored issues that about 15 gaming tribes, led by the San Manuel Band, wanted included. A third bill, championed by the Pechanga Band, joined the fray in May.

Where the bills differ are in the licensing fees, ranging from $5 million to $15 million; and who would be allowed to apply for a fee, with two proposals limiting that ability to tribes and card rooms, while shutting out racetracks, but agreeing that any entities that accepted unlawful internet wagers after December 31, 2006 would be shut out.

The bills also differ somewhat in how much tribal regulatory bodies would be able to participate in the state regulatory structure.

While the wrangling continues, the level of opposition to any kind of internet gaming bill has decreased over the past three years. Some observers see the barriers to such a bill looking increasingly flimsy next year. For example, the differences in the fees proposed in the three bills have been moving towards a compromise figure. All these factors indicate that horse-trading is going on behind closed doors.