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December 22, 2009

SACRAMENTO - The state legislature will hold a hearing in February on regulating online poker within California according to State Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood).

"I think it is workable and a potential source of new income," said State Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter). "How you structure it is the key."

If legislation is passed, California will be the first state to legalize and regulate intrastate online poker.

"About one million Californians are playing poker offshore right now," said Patrick Dorinson, a spokesperson for the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. The Morongo and the Commerce Casino support regulation. Both hope to operate online poker websites if the legislation is passed.

However, there is major opposition to the issue. "Card game gambling on the Internet would take business away from brick-and-mortar casinos," said Robert Smith, the chairman of the California Tribal Business Alliance.

Although there are federal laws prohibiting companies from operating Web-based gambling in this country I. Nelson Rose, a professor at Whittier Law School and a gambling law expert, said California may be exempt from federal restrictions if the gambling is operated inside the state and played by California residents only.

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