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Commerce Casino voices opposition to Frank bill

30 Aug 2010

COMMERCE, California -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- Concerned that card players have been misled by special interest groups receiving funds from illegal offshore gaming operators, Commerce Casino board members Tom Malkasian and Haig Papaian issued the following statement today to outline Commerce's position on Internet poker legislation. They are joined in their opposition to HR 4976(Frank), presently under consideration by Congress, by some of the largest card room casinos in the state and in the world - the Bicycle Casino, Hawaiian Gardens Casino and Hollywood Park Casino.

"Poker players deserve to know the real facts so let us be clear: We support online poker and we are working hard to make sure it will benefit all Americans. America's poker community should be united in opposing the Frank legislation that would ship jobs, revenue and taxes beyond our communities. We need to work together to keep American dollars at home.

Federal and state regulation of online poker is coming. To date, there have been more than 45 federal Internet gambling bills proposed and 60 state bills in the U.S. We can either fight to ensure that poker players' interests are legitimately protected or allow illegal foreign operators, who are siphoning millions of American dollars out of this country, to dominate the U.S. market.

As owners and managers of the state's tax-paying, law-abiding, regulated card rooms, we employ more than 20,000 Californians; generate millions in salaries and benefits; goods and services purchased from local businesses; and tax revenues to our local communities and the state.

In 2008, the California Public Policy Institute estimated that 70 percent of Californians were Internet users. According to another study in 2009, Californians wager an estimated $13.4 billion annually. That makes California the largest Internet gaming market in the world, and without state legislation to protect it, critically-needed billions will be captured by offshore and out-of-state operators never to return.

California card rooms have been on the leading edge of establishing poker's prominence on a worldwide basis for more than a century. The Golden State's track record for introduction of new games and technology is unmatched. Texas Hold'Em, Omaha, Seven-Card and Five-Card Stud, Crazy Pineapple, Mexican and Chinese Poker were all pioneered and promoted to the global status they occupy today by California card rooms.

Nevada casinos, offshore companies and Washington insiders don't want California to benefit from its own market. Our economic future is not their concern. We support free enterprise, fair competition and the principle that what plays in California, stays in California.

In addition, we oppose the Frank bill because it would authorize all types of gaming. We strongly support poker-only legislation.California lawmakers should be the first to bring an illegal enterprise under legal supervision, provide needed consumer protections and capture revenue that can benefit our state first. California must act before the end of the year to protect its own economy to keep market predators out and California dollars in. We believe poker players, informed with the facts, will support our stand.
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