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Indian Tribes Uneasy Over Online Poker Movement in California

Written By: PokerNet.com | March 8, 2012 | Posted In Poker News

American Indians former distrust of the speculation of Online Poker Legislation was previously unfounded, however, amongst new talks; it seems that their apprehension towards legalization may have been correct as there are now concerns over whether or not state-regulated online poker laws will provide any benefit for the tribes.

In previous instances of talk of the legalization of Online Poker, tribes have continually expressed concern over the effect state regulation would have over the tribe’s control over their own gaming operations.

Sheila Morago, executive director of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association stated that she believes there will be mixed impacts as a result of intrastate legalization. “It affects everyone differently, Tribes are still (hurting) from the loss of revenue from the recession. They are still wary about something new coming down the road.”

Morago also stated that many of the bills that would come into effect would end up forcing tribes to renegotiate state compacts. She continued by stating that this would be a problem due to the different revenue-sharing structures, and questions the proposed federal bill’s ability to effectively regulate 29 different states of tribal gaming.

The differences were noted by Moraga, who listed both Arizona and Oklahoma. Both have compacts covering tribal gaming, whereas California has multiple compacts with individual tribes, causing problems for the renegotiation as a result of federal intervention.

“We can all agree that no one wants to open their state compact,” Moraga had told tribal gaming executives, regulators and state officials. She was in attendance at the iGaming North America conference at Planet Hollywood Resort, which concluded this past Tuesday.

Moraga has been a part of various panel discussions with other tribal gaming veterans, discussing the impact of the online gaming policies on the various tribes. In the recent conference, over 550 people were brought in to discuss the overall legalization of online gambling.

Leslie Lohse, a California Tribal Business Alliance Chairwoman stated that there is much difficulty in getting tribes to support these new laws related to online gambling. She said that many of them were still unsure as to how it would affect their tribes and therefore very anxious about the implementation.

“We are not just talking about a business impact, but it’s a tribal impact,” Lohse said. She furthered her statement by mentioning that the current state of gaming is already very profitable.

Gambling revenue at Native American casinos is estimated to have grown to over $26.7 billion in 2010, as stated by a report from the Casino City Press, entitled the Indian Gaming Industry Report. This figure is up 1.3 percent from recorded $26.4 billion in 2009.

The state of California already estimates to generate over $200 million in the first year If online poker is legalized and effectively regulated before implementation.

Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal

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