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share save 120 16 Flaps California Morning Collection: August 17, 2011
griffith park observatory Flaps California Morning Collection: August 17, 2011

A morning collection of links and comments about my home, California.

Internet poker battle waged in Sacramento

A group of casino operators has taken to radio and television with ads urging state lawmakers to legalize Internet poker in California, prompting opponents to step up pressure for legislators to table the proposal for the year.

The ads by the California Online Poker Assn. say legalizing web-based poker could help the state avoid deep budget cuts. The spots started airing in the Sacramento area this week. Legislators are less than a month away from the deadline to act on bills this year.

“Online poker will provide California with $250 million dollars immediately and billions more in the future,’’ said Ryan Hightower, a spokesman for the association.

The group includes Commerce Casino, Bicycle Club, Hollywood Park Casino and operators of American Indian gaming facilities, including the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

Other American Indian tribes have joined the California Tribal Business Alliance, which Tuesday sent a letter to legislators asking them to drop two pending pieces of legislation for the year.

The alliance includes the Pala Band of Mission Indians, which operates a casino near Temecula. The alliance argues that Internet poker could take customers away from brick-and-mortar casinos.

Dan Walters: A corporate tax break Democrats adore – The Film Industry

Democratic politicians and liberal groups, including unions, often rail against corporate tax loopholes as unjustified raids on the public treasury – as they should.

Loopholes are particularly troublesome during periods, such as this one, when state and local budgets are leaking red ink and basic public services are being slashed.

But one multimillion-dollar loophole draws vocal support from those who usually oppose corporate tax breaks – one that happens to benefit a heavily unionized industry whose top executives are overwhelmingly Democrats and contribute lavishly to the party’s candidates and causes.

That would be Southern California’s movie and television production community.

California revenues down, Department of Finance confirms

Gov. Jerry Brown’s Department of Finance said Tuesday that California was $541 million shy of its July revenue forecast, a total similar to one released last week by state Controller John Chiang.

School officials grew nervous last week because the state budget signed by Brown requires K-12 districts to absorb cuts if the state falls $4 billion shy of revenue expectations for the fiscal year. The budget also would impose cuts to higher education, social services and public safety programs.

State legislators and Brown tacked on that $4 billion expectation of higher revenues to finish closing the state deficit in June.

Finance officials, in a department bulletin, cautioned against early concern. They suggested that most of the higher revenues would come on the back end of the fiscal year, from December through June. And they said forecasts by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Department of Finance in November and December would determine whether the “trigger” cuts are necessary.

The $541 million in missed revenues represents 9.2 percent of the $5.867 billion that Finance expected the state to receive in July.

November 2012 Targets – Part Three: The State Senate

Last week, I made my early picks a to where the action may be for Congress and the state Assembly in November 2012. Now, lets look at the state Senate.

First, only the 20 odd-numbered districts are up for election in 2012, and, barring a successful court challenge or referendum, the candidates will run in one of the newly drawn districts that the Citizens Redistricting Commission, in their final vote, are expected to approve today, August 15.

Senators elected in 2010 in one of the 20 even-numbered districts were elected to a four-year term and will represent those districts as drawn until the end of their current term in 2014. Should any of these senators resign his/her seat, a special election would be held to fill the unexpired term, but the election would be held under the old lines. The newly drawn even-numbered districts do not become legal until the 2014 election cycle.

Here are the odd-numbered senate districts that I pick as possibly being competitive, with the more likely targets being listed first.

27th Senate District: Republican Sen. Tony Strickland and Democratic Sen. Fran Pavley are gearing up to battle each other for this highly competitive district that encompasses Ventura County’s Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, and the L.A. County city of Malibu, stretching north through the west San Fernando Valley and ending in Santa Clarita. Forty percent of the voters in this new district reside in the current 19th District represented by Strickland, while thirty-six percent reside in Pavley’s current 23rd District.  It’s also interesting to note that half of the new Senate district overlaps Assembly districts currently represented by Republicans Jeff Gorell and Cameron Smyth, while the other half overlaps Assembly districts currently represented by Democrats Robert Blumenfield and Julia Brownley.

Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman tied here, 47% -47%, while Carly Fiorina squeaked by Barbara Boxer 47% – 46%.

Side Note: Should Cong. Elton Gallegly (R) decide to not seek reelection to Congress next year, Strickland could decide to run for the Gallegly congressional seat. That would open the door for Asm. Cameron Smyth (R-Santa Clarita) to run in this district.

I look for Tony Strickland to run for the Congressional seat of a retiring Elton Gallegly

Enjoy your morning!

share save 120 16 Flaps California Morning Collection: August 17, 2011

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share save 120 16 Flaps California Morning Collection: June 22, 2011
griffith park observatory Flaps California Morning Collection: June 22, 2011

A morning collection of links and comments about my home, California.

California Controller John Chiang decided yesterday afternoon that he would withhold paychecks from California Legislators since they did not pass a “balanced” budget by the deadline as specified by Proposition 25. Now, remember they did pass a budget which was quickly vetoed by Democrat Governor Jerry Brown. This budget was not “balanced” enough for the California Controller.

Oh well – back to the drawing board.

However, this is not stopping these same Legislators from soliciting campaign cash this week.

Monday, Republican Sen. Bill Emmerson was looking to bulk up his campaign chest for re-election next year.

Tuesday saw nine legislators making the restaurant rounds from Spataro to Chops to Esquire Grill and beyond: Democratic Assemblymen Marty Block, Das Williams and V. Manuel Pérez, and Sen. Curren Price; plus Republican Assembly members Dan Logue, Katcho Achadjian, Chris Norby and Diane Harkey, and Sen. Sam Blakeslee.

Today, these lawmakers continue the quest: Democratic Assemblymen Ben Hueso, Sandré Swanson and Henry T. Perea and Sen. Noreen Evans; plus Republican Assemblymen Brian Jones and Don Wagner, and Sens. Doug LaMalfa and Mark Wyland.

Who ever said these POLS would be starving with or without balancing the California budget?

On to this morning’s California links.

Tobey Maguire Sued Over Multi-Million Dollar Illegal Poker Game; DiCaprio, Affleck & Damon Involved

Spider-Man star Tobey Maguire is among more than a dozen high-profile Hollywood celebrities being sued in connection with a mega-millions illegal gambling ring that ran high-stakes underground poker games, Star magazine is reporting exclusively.

Maguire, 35, won more than $300,000 from a Beverly Hills hedge fund manager who embezzled investor funds and orchestrated a Ponzi scheme in a desperate bid to pay off his monster debt to the star and others, it’s alleged.

An FBI investigation into Brad Ruderman, the CEO of Ruderman Capital Partners, uncovered how he lost $25 million of investor money in clandestine poker games held on a twice weekly basis in suites at the luxury Beverly Hills hotel, Four Seasons, and the Viper Room on Sunset Boulevard.

wenn3144122 Flaps California Morning Collection: June 22, 2011

Brown Plots New Budget as California Lawmakers Forfeit Pay for Being Late

California Governor Jerry Brown has drafted a plan to pass a budget through the Legislature that sidesteps Republicans who blocked a previous effort, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Brown’s proposal comes as legislators have been forced to forfeit pay for every day they fail to send a balanced budget to the governor past a June 15 deadline. He vetoed a spending plan sent to him by Democrats last week, saying it used legally doubtful maneuvers and one-time fixes.

“I’ll be sharing some very specific ideas tomorrow,” Brown said to reporters as he left a meeting with Assembly Democrats yesterday. “There will be several ideas I’ll propose.”

Timm Herdt: Brown can’t get 4 votes; how can he get 81?

Legislators, Democrats and Republicans alike, know all that and they simply won’t swallow the bitter medicine that the grown-up Brown says is the only alternative if he doesn’t get the chance to ask voters to weigh in on extending current tax rates.

From the legislators’ perspective, when compared to their other choices, the idea of muddling through for another year without solving the state’s chronic fiscal problems doesn’t seem like such a terrible option.

Thus far, Brown hasn’t wavered from the plan he put forth in January. But the new fiscal year begins a week from Friday.

“The next step is the governor’s,” Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said Monday. “If he wants to suggest a budget with significantly deeper cuts to education, health care and public safety, we’ll take a look at it.”

If Brown is forced to take that step, know this: It won’t be nearly as popular as his veto.

Huntsman to hold California fundraisers

Jon Huntsman, fresh off his campaign launch, will host three high dollar California fundraisers next week.

The former Utah governor will be in San Diego on June 26th, and Orange County and Los Angeles on June 27th. Dinner with Huntsman will cost donors $1,000, while a VIP cocktail reception will cost the primary election maximum of $2,500. Huntsman is also soliciting high dollar bundlers to raise money on his behalf and offering them perks like a seat at the head table and extra VIP tickets for high dollar commitments.

Enjoy your morning!

share save 120 16 Flaps California Morning Collection: June 22, 2011

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share save 120 16 Online Poker Law Looks Doubtful   Does Online Poker Have a Future?
capt15b53f5de26d4a13846 Online Poker Law Looks Doubtful   Does Online Poker Have a Future?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010

Maybe not.

Democrat Senate Majority leader Harry Reid’s attempt at political payback to Harrah’s and MGM looks like it has failed and gaming pundits are not optimistic.

The odds of federal approval for online poker are fading with Republicans due to take over the House of Representatives, an analyst said Thursday.

Gaming equipment suppliers like International Game Technology, WMS Industries Inc. and Bally Technologies Inc. could react negatively to a scuttled bill, though casino operator MGM Resorts International would have more room to maneuver, wrote Ryan Worst of Brean Murray, Carret & Co.

Las Vegas’ MGM may be able to enhance its business through other avenues, such as campaigns to improve Las Vegas revenue and visitation.

Senator Harry Reid said Wednesday that his attempt to hook the online poker bill to the tax cut extension bill is unlikely to work. And he thinks Republican domination of the House next year will hurt the bill’s chances further.

The online poker legislation Reid has been pushing would allow poker games over the Internet but limit initial licenses to casinos and racetrack operators that have been in business at least five years. The online gambling industry generates an estimated $5 billion a year for offshore operators. A slice of that revenue would be been a boon for U.S. casinos that have been hammered by the economic downturn.

Indian Tribes in California will attempt their own bill for California residents but for now the prospects of online poker do not look good. But, will the gray area of offshore poker sites blossom with legal challenges to the UIGEA?

How will increased federal scrutiny by the Department of Justice/Treasury of offshore poker sites hurt the industry? How about House Congressional hearings subpoenaing sponsored poker pros with possible ownership interests in the sites?

Or will Poker Stars, Ultimate Bet and Full Tilt Poker simply fade away and be relics to poker’s past?

share save 120 16 Online Poker Law Looks Doubtful   Does Online Poker Have a Future?

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share save 120 16 Harry Reid Tries to Add Online Poker to Tax Bill

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trying to use the tax cut package President Barack Obama brokered with Republicans to legalize online poker, POLITICO has learned — a move that could further complicate the deal Obama announced Monday.

Already, the online poker proposal has exposed the Nevada Democrat to charges of flip-flopping on a controversial issue, as well as using his Senate leadership position to repay big casino interests that helped him win reelection in a hard-fought campaign against Republican Sharron Angle last month.

" Reid, who has previously opposed online gambling, declined to comment Monday through a spokesman.

But Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), as well as several senior congressional sources and gambling lobbyists, confirmed that Reid and his staff have reached out to other Senate offices to try to build support for adding the online poker legislation — a draft of which POLITICO has obtained — to a measure extending the Bush-era tax cuts.

So, is this a way Harry Reid will try to kill the Bush Era Tax Cut deal with the GOP and President Obama? Or, just a plain ol’ cynical attempt at pork barrel politics with Reid trying to cram in a special interest favor into a big bill?

I don’t know but from what I read the online poker bill is a LOSER for American poker players who now play online (which I do) and benefits really only Harrah’s (Caesar’s Entertainment) and MGM – both large Las Vegas Casino mega-corporations.

Senator John Kyl has already said that this "rider" was not part of the deal with Obama and will try to block it. And, some of the other casinos in Las Vegas and on Indian Tribes are not happy with the bill either.

House Republicans would probably vote against the Bush Era Tax cut Bill in its entirety if this poker provision is added to the bill. With Far-Left Democrats that might spell the end of the entire tax cut deal.

Stay tuned as the vote plays out tomorrow. I don’t think this attempt by Harry Reid will make it into the final bill.

tags: Harry_Reid Poker

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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share save 120 16 Updated: Senator Harry Reid Pushes Legalization of Online Poker   Even the Left is Dissatisfied
+++++Update+++++

Catch this piece over at HuffPo and note the sarcasm.

Basically, this is Harry Reid taking a moment during the frantic lame duck session to pass the So Long And Thanks For All The Money I Used To Defeat The Crazy Lady Running Against Me Act of 2010. Reid had hitherto been opposed to online poker — not because the industry preys on “the young, the weak and the vulnerable in the name of new revenues to cover more government spending,” as Alabama Representative Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) complains — but because the rise of online poker would impact the business of the people preying on the young and the weak and the vulnerable who come out to Las Vegas’ blasted heath of foreclosed homes to help prove the adage “the house always wins.” So why is he suddenly going to the mat for online poker?

According to the draft of the bill reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Reid’s office is considering language that would allow only existing casinos, horse tracks and slot-machine makers to operate online poker websites for the first two years after the bill passes, which could limit the ability of other companies to enter the market.

Only existing establishments, eh? Be assured that the casinos went all in for Reid. Ryan Grim put Reid on the couch in a profile around Election Day: “Reid’s opacity masks what is, at bottom, a simple approach to life. It may seem odd that a Mormon convert and a teetotaler who doesn’t gamble has been elected to represent Las Vegas for decades. But Las Vegas is an explicitly transactional town, with cash and connections as currency, from the bell hop and the call girl to the mine owner and hotel/casino magnate. It’s a place where status and political power can be purchased for a price, regardless of the buyer’s background, upbringing, pedigree or criminal record. Washington is, at root, the same, although with a gloss of sophistication to make it appear a high-minded civic pursuit.”

++++++++++++

In another attempt to pay back constituencies that helped him win re-election in November, Nevada Senator and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has proposed legislation legalizing online poker.

Staffers for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are circulating a bill to legalize poker playing on the Internet that’s backed by large casino interests.

The Nevada casino companies pushing the measure were among the Democrat’s biggest donors during his fierce re-election fight. They argue the bill would provide consumer protection for poker players and would provide some tax revenue for federal and state governments.

On Wednesday, three Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Mr. Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) opposing any efforts to pass Internet poker legislation during the lame-duck session.

“Congress should not take advantage of the young, the weak and the vulnerable in the name of new revenues to cover more government spending,” Rep. Spencer Bachus (R., Ala.), the ranking Republican member of the House Financial Services Committee and others wrote.

Dingy Harry Reid is paying back Harrah’s, now Caesar’s Entertainment, who mounted a massive GOTV effort during his November campaign. Caesar’s owns the World Series of Poker brand and already has online real money poker sites in Europe and Canada. They are poised to enter the American market should enabling legislation be enacted.

Alan Feldman, a spokesman for MGM Resorts International, a large Las Vegas-based casino company, said he hoped such a bill had a possibility of rushing through in the next few weeks. “A lot of things happen in this kind of time frame,” he said.

Internet gambling has been a top priority for the Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corp., which recently changed its name from Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. and is the largest casino company in the world by revenue. The company owns the popular World Series of Poker brand that it hopes to parlay into online success to make up for anemic growth in its U.S. casino markets.

So, what will the proposed bill do?

1. Overturn UIGEA.

2. Provide legislation for poker-only.

3. Limit legal internet gaming to allow only existing casinos, horse tracks and slot-machine makers to operate online poker websites for the first two years after the bill passes.  Its unclear what they are proposing to do with Full Tilt, Poker Stars, Ultimate Bet and the like rogue offshore sites during the time-out.

4. Outsource oversight of internet gambling to the *state* government.

5. Earmark revenue on wager to both state and federal governments.

BJ Nemeth poker photographer extraordinaire has his analysis here and raises the obligatory questions, particularly about the existing off-shore poker sites, where all Americans play illegally.

I think the odds of this bill passing are remote since the Democrats are playing games with the Bush era tax rates and no Senate action will proceed until this issue is resolved.

Could this legislation be rolled into the continuing resolution which is necessary to continue the government?

Possibly as a compromise provision, especially if Harry Reid gives up something like the DREAM Act. But, the DREAM Act is another pay back from Reid to another Nevada constituency which was instrumental in his re-election – the Latinos.

So, stay tuned…..

share save 120 16 Updated: Senator Harry Reid Pushes Legalization of Online Poker   Even the Left is Dissatisfied

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