Capitol Alert

Internet poker bills shelved

Californians hoping to legally play poker online will have to wait at least another year.

Lawmakers have shelved bills that would have created a legal internet poker system for players within California, making this the fifth year in a row in which they’ve publicly flirted with the idea without casting a vote.

“Internet poker is a very important public policy for the state of California and once it’s done and signed into law it’s going to be with us for at least 30, 40 years. So we want to make sure we do it right,” said Sen. Lou Correa, a Santa Ana Democrat who carried a bill to allow internet poker.

“Instead of passing something that I’m not comfortable with, we’re not going to move ahead at this time.”

California’s gambling interests have been negotiating over the issue for years. Earlier this summer, most of the state’s casino-owning Indian tribes announced an agreement on how internet poker could work. But the powerful Morongo tribe remained opposed, as did major cardrooms. The effort also faced opposition from U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson, who hired lobbyists in Sacramento to fight against internet poker bills and got former assembly speakers Fabian Nuñez and Willie Brown to join the effort opposing a new form of gambling in the state.

“Clearly Sheldon Adelson... is a factor,” Correa said. “But I’ve not seen it being a major factor.”

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