Morongo Band encourages tribes to back Internet poker

Robert Martin, the chairman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, urged California tribes to join a proposed Internet poker consortium or risk losing millions of dollars in gaming revenues.

Martin said off-shore companies and Las Vegas casinos are already ahead of the game. He said tribes need to tap into the $3 billion online poker market.

"You saw what (the Internet) did to the newspaper industry, the record industry. We don't want that to happen to us," Martin said at the 15th annual Western Indian Gaming Conference in Palm Springs yesterday, The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported.

The consortium would link tribal gaming facilities with non-Indian card clubs. No changes to the state constitution are needed since poker is already legal in California, the tribe's attorney said at the conference.

Other tribes have voiced opposition to the proposal. No one spoke publicly against the idea yesterday but Richard Milanovich, the chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, suggested that the presence of the news media at the panel stifled comments.

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The Morongo Band of Mission Indians near Banning continues push for Internet poker (The Riverside Press-Enterprise 1/14)