A large amount of cash is flooding Sacramento from lobbyists representing Indian tribes and other groups seeking to legalize on-line gambling. This will be the third year since the Federal government banned on-line gambling.
Off shore internet gambling thrived until earlier this year when government prosecutors indicted the top on-line executives brazen enough to ignore the government ban. Even if California voters passed legislation to legalize internet gambling, the state would have to find a legal means of side-stepping the federal ban.
Two bills are currently up for debate; SB-40 by Senator Lou Correa, D-Santa Anna, would only legalize on-line poker, and SB-45 by Senator Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, would legalize all kinds of on-line gambling.
Indian tribes Morongo and San Miguel are the most vocal tribes pressing for passage of either bill. Together, the tribes have paid over a half a million dollars in 2010 and half of 2011 on lobbyist. Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown is a major lobbyist for the Morongo tribe.
Other Indian tribes are unhappy with either bill and have spent over $1.2 million last year to oppose them. They argue that SB-40 and SB-45 do not give them enough opportunity to make money through internet gambling.
Up for grabs are millions of dollars that Indian tribes could reap from on-line gamblers. The state could potentially collect hundreds of millions in needed tax revenues.
Ultimately, if on-line gambling were legalized in California, the revenue would have to come from somewhere. That ‘somewhere’ would be the thousands of people losing money every day. Gambling addicts happy about how easy it now is to empty their bank accounts into the computer with the slim chance of winning. No more drive to the casino or card room. Imagine gambling from the comfort of home, office, or Starbucks—anywhere with internet access.
The state of the economy is too fragile to risk the financial stability of the middle class. If people want to give their money away, let’s not make it so easy for them.