Tribes in California spent $4.8M on Internet poker lobbying

The five largest gaming tribes in California spent $4.8 million in the last two years, mostly on Internet poker legislation, The Palm Springs Desert Sun reports.

Tribes were on both sides of the issue. Some were part of a consortium to allow tribal casinos and non-Indian card clubs to offer online poker games. Others opposed bills that were introduced in the state.

“If you don’t have money, you don’t have influence,” Robert Martin, the chairman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, told the paper. “That is the legislative process. If you don’t have money, you don’t have a seat at the table.”

The Morongo Band was a founding member of the consortium but withdrew late last year. And none of the online bills advanced very far.

“The plain, simple truth is …the incumbent gamers —not just the tribes but the card clubs, the horse-racing people —say they’d like it limited to just them, and the political realities say that’s what we’ll have to do,” Sen. Rod Wright (D), who sponsored one of the failed bills, told The Desert Sun. “Together, they have political muscle that they use.”

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Once-poor tribes parlay casino revenues into political power (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 1/27)

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