Bo Mazzetti: California must regulate Internet poker games

The Harrah's Resort Southern California on the Rincon Reservation. Photo from Facebook

Bo Mazzetti, the chairman of the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, urges strong regulation of Internet poker games in California:
The Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, like other gaming tribes, has an investment and interest in I-Poker as a matter of constitutional exclusivity, and our continued economic survival and progress. Likewise, Californians personally at risk playing poker online, and taxpayers, collectively losing money that should go to the state, have a stake in this legislation.

The social and financial impacts of unregulated online gaming – the human casualties – are being borne by the state without a way to recoup costs. Currently, the proceeds from I-poker are going to illegal foreign online operators for whom it is difficult to confirm if the stated odds are accurate, who is operating the online site and how the profits are being used. There is little or no legal recourse for fraud or identity theft in today’s unregulated games.

Fifteen years ago, the tribes and the state created a regulatory structure for our gaming operations that has safeguarded consumers and maintained the integrity and reputation of the gaming. Our experience leads us to recommend some specific legislative conditions that will protect the consumers and California taxpayers.

First, the state needs to create a licensing and regulatory framework. California needs enforcement mechanisms that ensure I-poker games are regulated as rigorously as other federal and state gaming, and that there are sufficient resources for enforcement by establishing an enforcement fund. Someone has to pay for enforcement and social costs. It shouldn’t be the taxpayers. A mechanism for tracking winnings for taxation and other purposes is also needed. In addition, there must be a formula for sharing profits with the state’s taxpayers.

Get the Story:
Bo Mazzetti: Internet poker shouldn't stack deck against players, taxpayers (The San Diego Union-Tribune 5/14)

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