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California offered piece of the action from Internet poker

Casino operators lobby hard for legalization by the state. Co-sponsors of a state legalization bill hope it could raise hundreds of millions for the budget-battered state.

May 14, 2012|By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times

Wright and Steinberg are now considering changes that the poker association has demanded as a condition for supporting the bill, including stronger barriers to out-of-state gambling interests. The group's Indian casinos, as well as the 33-tribe California Nations Indian Gaming Assn., are insisting that the bill be limited to poker.

A separate small group of tribes is lobbying to kill the legislation, saying it would violate their exclusive right to operate certain electronic games and take customers away from their brick-and-mortar casinos. Wright is not proposing that Internet slot machines be legalized.

"This is … a harsh slap in the face to California Indian tribes," said Leslie Lohse, chairwoman of the California Tribal Business Alliance, which consists of three tribes with casinos.

Lohse's group has donated $278,000 to Brown's effort to qualify a tax hike for the November ballot. A tax increase that closes the budget gap could reduce the need for Internet gambling proceeds.

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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