The Morongo Band of Mission Indians and its card club allies have dropped-for this year-efforts to lobby the California legislature to legalize internet poker under an umbrella consortium that would be run by the tribes and the card clubs together.
But the tribe, one of the most successful gaming tribes in Southern California, is gearing up for a major effort in January. There are considerable monetary rewards that beckon if they can interest enough lawmakers in the bill, which would allow them to tap some $4 billion in internet poker that experts believe originates in the Golden State.
How much the state would get was uppermost in the mind of Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg in August. “I only have one question when I hear a proposal like that: How much money for the state general fund? Is it two, three hundred million dollars? If it is, I’d consider it. But I think it’s going to take more than four weeks to analyze that kind of proposal and the potential economic benefits,” he said.
The consortium’s efforts have so far been endorsed by the 32-member California Nations Indian Gaming Association but has drawn opposition from others, such as the United Auburn Community and the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, who paid for a poll that showed strong opposition to the idea among the state’s voters.
At the federal end of the spectrum, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey in August introduced a bill to legalize online poker and “games of skill” that many players claim are not gambling at all.