California Internet Gaming Bills Face Senate Committee

California Internet Gaming Bills Face Senate Committee

ICTMN Staff
7/12/11

Opposing online poker bills face the Senate Government Organization Committee on July 12, reported Capitol Weekly. The hearing is informational, and neither bill is expected to come up for vote.

California State Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) has amended his online poker bill, Senate Bill 40, to create opportunity for more types of companies to offer online poker and more harshly penalizing those who play on or organize illegal gaming operations including via online and mobile telecommunications.

Tacked onto the $10,000 fine, violators would face “seizure and forfeiture of all personal and real property used in or derived from the operation of or play on an unauthorized website.”

Changes to the more "consumer friendly" bill are intended to help generate $250 million in new revenue for California through upfront payments from online poker operators, states Correa's press release. If approved, the bill would enforce a $5 million, non-refundable application fee that would count against later payouts to the state. The state gets 10 percent of the take. The fee is intended to disuade less serious companies from entering the online gaming marketplace. "But entities that apply for a license within 90 days of the bill going into effect would prepay $50 million to the state against their future revenues, while those applying after have to pay $250 million," Capitol Weekly explains.

The California Online Poker Association (COPA), led by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, supports the changes to S.B. 40, and the California Tribal Business Association (CTBA), an alliance of three tribes, opposes both S.B. 40 and another bill, S.B. 45, introduced by California State Sen. Rod Wright (D-Inglewood) in December.

COPA has a coalition of around 30 tribes and 15 card rooms, and an advocacy website—AllinforCalifornia.org—to lobby on behalf of S.B. 40. COPA has previously said S.B. 40 will give California a much-needed infusion of more than a thousand jobs and $1 billion in revenue without raising taxes.

“The entire set of amendments reflects a greater chance for California to earn more income," COPA spokesman Ryan Hightower told Capitol Weekly.

S.B. 45 hasn’t changed or moved since December. It allows tribes, card rooms and most anyone, including Nevada casinos and offshore firms, to compete for a California license. It would also allow gaming other than poker.

Hightower told Capitol Weekly that he expects S.B. 40 to make headway in the near future. “I think within the next 75 days we’re going to see some movement on the bill, and it’s still in a very good position to pass this year,” he said.

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