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Online gambling to increase California budget by $1 billion?

The author of one of two Californian intrastate bills seeking to legalise online poker, Sen. Lou Correia ratcheted up the political rhetoric this week with an op ed article in the newspaper Capitol Weekly.

Correia used the platform of the Golden State's $25 billion budget deficit to promote his bill SB40, which has the potential to generate a billion dollars for the state government over a ten year period through the licensing and regulation of internet poker.

Titled "California First: The State Funding, Job Creation and Online Gaming Accountability Act," the proposal authorizes the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Gambling Control to regulate and monitor online poker operations.

"This will ensure players are protected from fraud or theft, which occur frequently at illegal, offshore poker sites," claims Correia in his article. "The bill also includes safeguards to prevent minors from being able to gamble online, protecting California's children.

"Operators would be required to pay an operator fee, player winnings would be reported as taxable income and all bank accounts, servers and operating personnel would be located in California."

The Senator writes that more than two million Californians play poker online, and that each year state residents wager 13 billion dollars playing unregulated online poker.

"However, none of this money stays in California. The money leaves our state to support illegal, offshore interests," he continues. "Senate Bill 40 is carefully written to regulate and limit gaming, while keeping the revenue and jobs here in California, helping state and local governments."

Correia goes on to quote the findings of a recent economic report conducted by former Finance Dept. Director Timothy L. Gage, who predicts the authorisation and regulation of online poker in California will generate over a billion dollars in new revenue to the state within the first 10 years and create more than 1,100 new jobs.

He also quotes recent public opinion research that demonstrates overwhelming support - 66% of California voters support the state legalising, regulating, and taxing the profits of online poker in California and establishing strong safeguards and consumer protections.

"California's voters also want to see our own trusted gaming partners - tribes and card rooms as operators of online poker rather than out-of-state or off-shore companies," he claims.

In the same week, another point of view was being expressed at the California Nations Indian Gaming Association conference.

The Desert Sun reports that Sen. Joel Anderson, vice chairman of the Governmental Organization committee, told delegates that the state is at a terrible crossroads.

"It's never been deeper in debt,'' he said, but cautioned the leaders of tribal nations, lawyers and casino industry officials to be careful moving forward - especially on initiatives involving Internet poker.

Thus far, the Association has opposed a legalisation attempt by Sen. Roderick Wright that calls for three licenses - each awarded in bidding - for all forms of Internet gambling, with applications open to operators from outside the state.

It has not yet taken a position on Senator Correia's more exclusive and focused poker proposal, which has the support of Californian card rooms and some tribal groups led by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians.

CNIGA chairman Daniel Tucker asked members to plan for the future.

"We hope to get everyone's perspective and their questions answered,'' said Jerome Encinas, director of CNIGA government affairs, adding that it was to be expected that internet gambling legislation would surface again.

Allen Lawson, chairman of the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians, said, "If we don't get on top of it, and understand it, we're going to lose."

Terry St. Cyr, from Nebraska's Winnebago Nation, said US tribal nations are watching California tribes and their moves closely. "We think Internet gambling is the future," he commented.

Source: InfoPowa News

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