Online Poker Proposal Stirs Californian Indian TribesAugust 19, 2009 8:42 am
The drive to legalise online poker in California has divided rival Indian tribes into those for the move and those who believe it would impact their businesses negatively.
The ‘pro camp’ is spearheaded by the Morongo Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians who have seen their revenue fall in recent times due to difficult market conditions and have decided to combine forces with traditional rivals, the California card clubs who also have seen their businesses suffer, possibly due to competition from foreign online casinos.
They argue that legalising online poker would allow the cash strapped state to derive millions in much needed revenue from the multitude of Californian online players. Under their proposals Internet poker sites could be run jointly between the Morongo tribe et al and Los Angeles-area card clubs, which would offer consumers better protection from offshore and unregulated sites while the Californian state received a percentage of the winnings.
The pro camp’s challenge comes by way of attacking the UIGEA, claiming that technically speaking their lands is not under the jurisdiction of the State or the US, and saying that “there is nothing in federal law that prohibits a tribe from participating in state-authorized gaming outside the tribe’s Indian lands.” They are now in the process of producing a bill to present to state Congress.
The ‘opposed camp’ includes the California Tribal Business Alliance (CTBA), which represents 7 gambling tribes, and believe online approval of internet poker would mean “other casino-style games will follow,” and poker machines could spring up all over the state.
A Viejas Band of Mission Indians spokesman said: “This proposal represents an unprecedented expansion of gambling and could have serious negative consequences.There are serious constitutional, financial, legal, regulatory and other questions that need to be addressed carefully and deliberately before this scheme goes any further.”
David Quintana, the legislative director for the (CTBA) said: “This opens up gambling anywhere. There’s no tie to Indian land, and that’s not what we promised voters in the state of California,” referring to the law passed in 2000 which allowed gambling on tribal lands.
While the various tribes remain at loggerheads with each other, state governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is as of yet undecided on which way to proceed, and we will try to bring you any new developments in this story as they occur.