California Tribal Business Alliance Official Writes About Online Poker

This story was published more than 12 years ago.

In a self written piece in the Sacramento Bee newspaper this weekend, California Tribal Business Alliance Official Robert H. Smith said that his organization does not oppose the idea of legalizing online poker in California, but believes that the matter be discussed thoroughly.

Smith said that tribal disagreements have been triggered by the state's attempts to legalize online poker, although not over the legislation itself. He says that concerns "the unintended consequences of sloppy legislation and the appropriate way to head into the online gaming future" are contributing to the disagreements.

Smith also wrote that online poker legislation failed to move forward last year because some tribes felt that the bill did not go far enough to protect Native American tribal sovereignty, and believed the law would create a monopoly for the California Online Poker Association.

"For the record, the California Tribal Business Alliance does not oppose the legalization of Internet poke. But we do believe it is critical for the California Legislature to exercise its due diligence and consult with tribal governments before moving forward with a policy that will significantly alter the gaming landscape in California, as well as impact agreements among tribal, state and local governments."

In his article, Smith also listed some principles that his organization would demand in order to support any state or federal online poker legislation. They include:

  • There must be no compromise of the inherent rights of tribal governments, modifcation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act or undermining of existing tribal-state gaming compacts.

  • Tribes must be allowed to accept wagers from persons not on Indian lands.

  • Legislation must not limit tribal participation via targeted restrictions. In other words, not create a monopoly.

  • Legalisation must be limited to Internet poker.

  • Any new law must not permit play at Internet cafes, or allow players to withdraw winnings at brick-and-mortar casinos.

  • Regulatory standards comparable to those required of Indian gaming must be enshrined.

  • Legalisation laws must not allow foreign companies, their principals and contractors that violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act to participate.

  • There should be no tax on Indian gaming.

  • The federal Wire Act of 1961, which prohibits certain types of betting and wagering businesses, must be respected.

  • Any new law must be based on realistic assumptions, including true costs and the length of time it will take to implement a regulatory regime and employ qualified regulatory personnel.

Concluding his article, Smith wrote: "I think we can all agree that any legalization of Internet poker must be methodical, fair, in the best interests of the state and provide adequate time for the regulatory structure to be implemented with stringent safeguards to protect the integrity of gaming."

The article can be read in its entirety at: