Editorial: Don't bank on Internet poker for California

"Once again, state legislators are taking a look at a plan that backers say will help reduce California's $20 billion budget gap without raising taxes or cutting spending. It is a proposal by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians to have the state license and tax intrastate Internet poker.

Even if we thought that an expansion of legalized gambling was a good way to raise state revenues — which we do not — this ill-considered idea would not pass muster.

Specifically, the proposal would permit Internet poker in California by establishing a single "licensed entity," including an Indian tribe or tribes, to provide and operate Internet poker within the state. The state would collect an unspecified percentage of the "commissions" or "rake" collected from players.

We understand that trying to balance California's budget is a frustrating process that too often has spawned unsound solutions. Internet poker is among the worst of them and should be rejected by the Legislature.

Global Betting and Gaming Consultants estimate that the gross gaming yield from computer terminals now located in California by those playing Internet poker in the international market is $536 million. If the state were to charge a 10 percent fee, it could collect $53.6 million, assuming all Californians who now play Internet poker would play through a state licensed operator.

That is not likely, considering the experience of Sweden's government poker Web site. It has been in operation for several years, but has garnered only about 30 percent of the Swedish Internet market."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Banking on Internet poker is a bad bet for California's budget (MediaNews 2/11)

Another Opinion:
Vin Narayanan: New analysis: California online poker faces many obstacles (Casino City Times 2/10)

Also Today:
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is 'neutral' on Internet poker (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 2/11)
California Senate Holds Session To Discuss Online Poker (Card Player 2/10)