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California Online Poker Bill Set for Smooth Sailing, per Lobbyist Gallardo

Wed, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 12:00am

Passage of the bill to regulate and legalize online poker within California should be a 'smooth sail' once stakeholders feedback on the proposal to be presented to them this week, according to commentary to eGaming Review by the Poker Voters of America's (PVA) top lobbyist, Chris Gallardo.

The bill, called the California Online Poker Law Enforcement Compliance and Consumer Protection Act, represents a more viable option for the California government to address its predicted end of year $25 billion deficit than other revenue-raising proposals such as selling San Quentin prison to real estate developers, noted Gallardo.

The Online Poker industry is estimated to contribute $250 million a year in state taxes, according to data business H2 Gambling Capital. With the May rejection of an emergency state budget fix, these revenues are needed more than ever.

"We think we can help the governor and legislative leadership in trying to ease some of the pain of making cutbacks to essential programs," Gallardo told eGaming Review. "When I worked in the California legislature, I saw bills drafted and passed in hours, because those issues were a priority for the state."

The draft legislation being presented to the legislative leadership, the governor's office, and the California card rooms and Indian gaming tribes is the culmination of a year's work with stakeholders by the PVA.

After last year's version of the bill stalled due to factors mostly beyond the PVA's control, Gallardo believes the grassroots lobbying organization now has several other factors in its favor which could help it get the bill through this time around.

These include his links with the California tribes as the former lead lobbyist for the California Nations Indian Gaming Association. Gallardo, who is of Navajo extraction, said his background has been useful in helping underline the benefits of expanding their gaming businesses online to the tribes.

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