Online poker petition gets support in California

A petition drive in California that could result in the creation of a State-owned online poker site is gaining support from existing gambling communities and independent experts.

Last Monday, the local Secretary of State’s office announced that it had given online poker player Anthony “Tuff Fish” Sandstrom of San Diego approval to circulate a petition that, if it received 430,000 signatures by Christmas, would see an initiative placed on the ballot asking voters whether they would like to see a State-operated online poker room created.

The initiative is an effort by Sandstrom to overturn America’s Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) as, if successful, the initiative would create a possible court challenge where the State of California would be forced to defend online gambling in Federal Court.

“It’s silly for the State not to get into the business,” said I. Nelson Rose, a nationally known gambling expert and professor and attorney at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa.”Billions of dollars are being spent on the game here and the State isn’t getting one penny.”

The proposal would also allow Native American casinos and other gambling establishments to set up revenue-sharing deals, which would serve as an incentive to wealthy tribes to gather voter signatures needed to put the measure on the February ballot.

“We will take a look at the initiative and discuss it,” said Garry South, a consultant to the California Tribal Business Alliance, which is made up of tribes who own the largest casinos.