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PD Editorial: Online poker a bad gamble for California

There's no shortage of legal gambling in California.

You can wager on horse races at the state fair, six county fairs and six commercial tracks. All 13 venues accept bets on races at other tracks, including tracks outside the state.

There are more than 90 licensed cardrooms.

Charities are allowed to host poker, blackjack and baccarat games as fundraisers.

Indian tribes operate 58 casinos.

Finally, the state itself sponsors eight varities of lotto and also sells an array of scratch-off lottery tickets.

With all that gambling, is there any justification for maintaining a ban on Internet poker games? Yes. Indeed, there are plenty of good reasons.

But Indian tribes and their allies in Sacramento are pushing for the biggest expansion of gambling in state history. And after five years of squabbling, 13 politically active tribes, including the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, have settled their differences, greatly improving the odds of an online poker bill passing this year.

"This journey has been long and difficult," the tribes said in a letter to the chairmen of the Senate and Assembly committees with jurisdiction over gambling, "but the challenges posed by the Internet demand that we harness rather than cede the technology of the future for California and for our tribal communities."

Translation: The tribes see a lucrative new market, and they don't want competition from offshore companies that pioneered online gambling.


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