It looks like support is coming together for one last push for legalized online gambling in California. The question now: Is there enough time? There is less than two weeks left for any bill to pass the state Legislature but the Morongo Band of Mission Indians is trying to form a coalition to get it done.
According to Morongo spokesman Patrick Dorinson, 21 tribes have either signed up for or sent documents in to join the California Online Poker Association. This is a considerable improvement over the past year and a half of tribal fighting over internet poker.
The next step according to Dorinson is to put the new coalition in action if needed.
“We expect quite a few more signatures before midnight. We’re very pleased; we will use the coalition to try to get legislation passed to make it happen. Our next step is to go through the session to see if anything will come of the (Sen. Rod) Wright bill, and if not, prepare for next year.”
Senator Wright has a bill that would allow up to three hub operators each with a 20 year contract to conduct online gambling to California residents. The importance of these tribes now joining the association is that they will automatically be apart of the Tribal LLC for Internet Gaming and thus in the running for one of the hubs.
Wrights bill has already been heard by the Governmental Organization Committee and been voted down. The issue now though, according to Dorinson, is his bill is the only one far enough along in the process to even have a shot at getting passed. There are still some concerns among the tribe that internet gambling will have negative impact on the bricks-and-mortar casino ventures and the people that are employed by them. It is a concerned by everyone but at least for now, the tribal consensus shows a want for online gaming in California.
Senator Wright however acknowledging earlier this summer that more would have to be done to get everything worked out but also warned of what was at stake. He said that in the next ten years, annual gross gaming revenue from California will range from $1.7 to $2.1 billion.