|In an impressive display of raw political power, California's gaming tribes opposed a proposed Internet gambling ban.|
The bill, which would have given Californian authorities to take whatever action they liked against Internet gambling in the state, died in a Senate committee.
California had embraced nearly identical legislation just two years ago.
The powerful California Nations Indian Gaming Association, an umbrella group representing gambling tribes, wrote a letter of opposition to the new bill. The only other known opponent was a single tribe, Coyote Valley of Mendocino County.
Assemblyman Dario Frommer, D-Los Angeles, introduced the bill after reading about a San Jose woman who committed suicide after losing more than $30,000 gambling online.
The bill failed to draw a single vote, even though the committee is dominated by fellow Democrats. 'There is a silent hand at work here today,” said Frommer. “ . . . the hand of the big Indian tribes who requested an exemption for themselves. We weren't willing to give it to them, and they worked the committee.'
Frommer said, 'It's important to have a record that there is not one member of that committee who is willing to take a stand against Internet gambling, even though people are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars and the consumer is completely unprotected.”
The bill would have empowered the attorney general and local prosecutors to take whatever actions they could against the explosion of Internet gambling sites accessible in California. At the same time, lawmakers would have delivered a loud warning that gambling debts are unenforceable in California.
The measure moved quickly through the Assembly last year, passing off the floor on a 63-5 vote. That was before the tribes lined up against it.
The state exempts Internet wagering on horse races under a new law that would not have been affected by Frommer's legislation.
The tribes' letter warned they would oppose the bill unless it was amended to exempt them. Leaders of the association could not be reached yesterday.