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Casinos Propose Online Poker Deal with California

A new proposal by a casino group to tempt lawmakers in California into licensing intrastate online poker offers the state hundreds of millions in annual revenue.

A consortium of casinos and gambling operators is making a new proposal to sweeten the pot for California if the state will license them to run intrastate online poker sites. The group, which includes the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and the Commerce Casino, will offer to partner with the state if the Internet poker rooms are allowed, creating much-needed revenue for a state unable to pay its bills.

The casino group says permitting it to operate online poker will not only help ease the state's financial distress, but also will protect consumers against fraud and identity theft.

"About 1 million Californians are playing poker offshore right now," Patrick Dorinson, a spokesman for the Morongo band, told the Los Angeles Times.

Lawmakers are tempted by the chance to find new funding sources, but also wary of breaking compacts granting native tribes exclusive rights to electronic games of chance. Other tribes have also been reluctant to follow the Morongo lead, afraid to unintentionally nullify deals in place with the state.

Internet gambling experts say intrastate online poker in California could be a multi-billion dollar business. Given that state's tax of 25 percent on Indian gaming profits, that could mean $250 million a year for the state.

Published on December 13, 2009 by K.C.Carmichael

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