ONLINE POKER: Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg Bets Against Online Poker Bill
California legislation to legalize and license online poker faces long odds as lawmakers hurry to finish their work before an Aug. 31 deadline, the Senate’s top Democrat said today.
“It’s possible, but I don’t see it in the last four weeks,” Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, told reporters.
Steinberg is the co-author of the online poker bill, which was introduced by state Sen. Rod Wright, D-Los Angeles. The pro tem’s office has helped lead negotiations am0ng tribes with casinos, card clubs, horse tracks and other entities that have a stake in the potentially lucrative venture.
The bill, though, has not moved since its February introduction. Monday, Steinberg pointed to divisions among gaming tribes — some tribes support the proposal, others oppose the Wright-Steinberg bill but support the concept, and other tribes object to the whole idea of legalizing online poker.
The proposed bill would earn the cash-strapped state an estimated $200 million in licensing fees.
“I’m not going to break a pick on this issue,” Steinberg said. “But I’m willing to see it through if there is a little more consensus.”
The Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, which operates a casino near Valley center, supports the Wright bill. Steven Stallings, a Rincon council member, said he thinks there is still a chance at a deal before the session ends.
Stallings said the Rincon tribe is trying to work out acceptable bill language with the California Online Poker Association, which opposes the current version of the Wright-Steinberg bill. The association’s main main members are the Morongo Band of Mission Indians near Banning and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians near San Bernardino.