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Can California's Future Be Found in an Online Poker Hand?

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If we all just anted up online, it could save the state’s budget crisis. That’s the opinion of a coalition of tribes and gaming industry groups representing card rooms.

The California Watch reports a flurry of radio and television ads began appearing this week stoking the old debate over whether online gaming, like poker, should be legal in the U.S.

The California Online Poker Association (COPA) is backing SB 40 – State Sen. Lou Correa’s proposed legislation that would create the “largest single market for online poker play with more than 60% of the country’s players based in the state and more than 2 million residents playing online.”

Politicians in favor of online gambling say it would bring both money and jobs to a state that needs a big dose of both.

At least $250 million right away and billions more in the future a spokesperson told the LA Times earlier this week.

Opponents argue – just like the odds in gaming - the numbers aren’t as they appear.

The Press-Enterprise called for caution in its editorial.

“The legislative analyst reported last year that offshore websites collected an estimated $300 million to $400 million in gross profits from Californians playing online poker -- which does not suggest a massive take for the state.”

Tribes argue any push for online poker could violate the compacts they have with the state of California and bring an end to their payments to the state. According to the California Tribal Business Alliance (CALTBA), the state's General Fund received an estimated $365 million in revenue from the tribes in 2010-11.

They're asking legislators to fold, if you will... to not to take up the legislation this year.

Of course the issue over the state legislation could be moot if Congress truly considers a bill legalizing poker across the U.S. by year's end as has been reported.
 

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