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Commentary: Internet Poker Bill? Lawmakers Should Fold

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, August 19, 2011

As the saying goes, "you got to know when to hold them, and you got to know when to fold them." So if state lawmakers were smart, they'd put their cards down on a bill to legalize internet poker. It's a losing hand.

Yes, I can understand the attraction. California's budget is in trouble, and supporters say internet poker could bring in up to $250 million in new revenue for the state. Perhaps it will, but the cost, in gambling addiction and lost productivity, is just  far too high.

It is not that I have moral objections to internet gambling. My concern is the larger economy. Expansion of gambling does nothing to increase overall wealth. It merely shifts money from one group to another. That does nothing to help our state recover and create the kind of jobs we desperately need.

There's big money behind internet poker - mainly Indian tribes from Southern California - and they are spreading that money around the Capitol. But we already have too many casinos and card rooms. Let Nevada remain the nation's gambling capital. The Golden State should aim higher.


Stuart Leavenworth is editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee.

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