It will be anything but poker faces Tuesday as the Internet gambling bill gets debated in the California Senate. The online gambling bill, Senate Bill 1463, gets its first major hearing starting at 9:30 Tuesday in the Senate’s Policy Committee. The legislation seeks to create a framework to authorize intrastate Internet gambling in California. If approved, the Internet Gambling Consumer Protection and Public-Private Partnership Act of 2012 would regulate and license online gaming and tax the gross revenue. The bill was introduced Feb. 24 by Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Sen. Roderick Wright, (D-Inglewood). This year’s effort is similar to a bill Wright introduced two years earlier. That effort was unsuccessful.
The bill raises interesting issues in California, where tribal gaming operations have the exclusive right to offer gaming on video devices. Back when tribal gaming began in California in the late 1990s, video gaming devices meant slot machines. Nowadays a video gaming device could be a desktop computer — or the phone in nearly everyone’s pocket. Not surprisingly, many tribes are opposed to SB 1463, including the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation , owners of Cache Creek Casino Resort in Brooks, as well as other gaming tribes such as Viejas Tribal Government and Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. In an effort to be prepared if the bill passes, the United Auburn Indian Community , owners of Thunder Valley Casino , entered into a 10-year agreement with London-based Bwin.party Digital Entertainment PLC, the world’s largest listed online gaming company.
The tribe doesn’t feature online gaming of any kind, but it took the step to forge the partnership should California law be changed to allow online gaming.