Vote on California online gambling bill delayed

29 June 2010
State Sen. Roderick Wright, who chairs the Governmental Organization Committee in the California Senate, elected not to have his committee vote today on a bill that would create a licensing and regulatory structure for online gambling in California. Instead, Wright updated the Governmental Organization Committee on the progress of his bill, and why California needs to license and regulate online gambling.

"As author of the bill, let me say that the bill needs more work," Wright said.

"The bill is moving in the right direction," he added.

The "more work" Wright refers to lies in the fact that people who were expected to be key supporters of his legislation have voiced opposition to the bill as currently written.

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians and some California card rooms that had been pushing for regulation of online poker in California said last week they opposed Wright's bill in its present form.

Wright's bill currently allows for open competition for three Internet gambling licenses -- including bids from offshore companies.

The Morongo and the California card rooms want licenses to go only to groups or entities that already offer poker in California.

State Sen. Leland Yee echoed those concerns at the hearing.

"It's clear to me that I don't think we're in the place where we know all the possible insights and permutations," Yee said. "A model that I would be supportive of would entail players and entities that we have dealt with in the past. Given the fact that we're moving in this new arena, it requires some background and understanding who they are and what they're about and their honesty. We can't afford missteps."

Wright knows that coming up with language that will satisfy the various interested parties will be difficult.

"If it fits for a group, it may or may not fit for another," he said.

Wright did make it clear that in his view doing nothing was not an option.

"The world isn't standing still while we figure out what to do," Wright said. "The longer we wait, the more difficult it will be to get that business back."

Wright also sounded this cautionary note.

"Growing up near Hollywood Park, I saw young adults going to the track," Wright said. (But) horse racing didn't replace the young people. I'm seeing in the casinos that older people play. It's a variation of the same scenario -- young people using alternate means of playing."

"We don't want to become Blockbuster, or Hollywood Video or newspapers," added Wright.

Vin Narayanan

Articles by Vin Narayanan is the former managing editor at Casino City and has been involved in the gaming industry for over a decade Vin is currently based in Hong Kong, where he runs his own consultant group and works as head of gaming and public relations for Mega Digital Entertainment Group.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for, USA WEEKEND and CNN.