So, California is still broke, right?
Solution? Internet gambling legalization, for one thing.
Not that it would solve the state’s pathetic financial situation.
But it sure would help.
Bills to legalize online gambling are likely headed for another year of debate. A few bills have already been around for a couple of years.
Lobbyists and political campaigns are benefiting from the protracted discussion, collecting millions of dollars from the card rooms, racetracks and Indian tribes, as they attempt to legalize Internet betting.
Who will reap the benefits…besides the state, of course?
“Any time there’s a major new legislative initiative that is contentious, the details of which have to be worked out, it’s good for the business of lobbyists, political consultants and lawyers,” said a lawyer who represents several Indian tribes, to the Sacramento Bee newspaper this weekend.
“Any issue where there is this much money involved is going to attract advocacy on all sides,” Dickstein said.
Moving the business online will require a major political push.
• The Morongo and San Manuel tribes, sponsors of one of the Internet gambling bills, together spent more than $337,000 on lobbying last year. They have spent nearly that much more – $304,000 – on lobbying just in the first half of this year.
• Major card rooms and racetracks that want to operate Internet gambling spent another half-million dollars on lobbying last year, and this year are spending at a similar pace.
California isn’t alone. Other states also want to legalize Internet gambling.
In California, supporters say legalizing Internet gambling will bring hundreds of millions in new taxes to state coffers.
The attorney general’s office regulates casinos. No one is yet sure which agency would regulate Internet gambling once it becomes legal.