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Emily D. Swoboda

Online Poker to Fund Repair of Calif. Potholes

2 August 2007

An American online poker player is pushing for a state-run poker site to benefit the residents of California.

Anthony Sandstrom, who has been playing online poker from his home in San Diego for about three years, was given clearance on Friday by the California Secretary of State to circulate a petition calling for a state government-owned online poker site.

Currently online poker treads in legally murky waters in the United States. Some argue it's a game of skill and should be exempted from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which outlaws online gambling in the United States by criminalizing the processing of online gambling transactions.

Sandstrom is one of those people.

"The people of California declare that, unlike casino gambling, poker is a game of skill," Sandstrom wrote on his Web site. "It is a game of patience, mathematics, psychology and observation. Individual players have control over the progression of the game, and their actions can affect a favorable outcome. Unlike games of chance, individuals can learn to improve their play and, through their own efforts, become more skilled than their opponents."

Sandstrom's initiative, called "Pothole Repair Funded by Online Poker," proposes that a new section be added to the California Business and Professions Code allowing for the creation of an online poker site, of which the revenues would go to gambling addiction prevention and treatment and fixing state roadways.

According to Sandstrom's measure, 90 percent of the site's net revenues, generated by a set percentage rake and tournament buy-in fees, would go to repairing California's dilapidated streets and highways.

It would also allow local Indian tribes and other of California's gambling establishments to set up revenue-sharing deals with the state.

Sandstrom claims California stands to gain between $40 million and $500 million from running an online poker site, and he is basing those numbers on the financial results of well-established poker sites such as and PartyPoker.

According to the his site, Sandstrom was inspired by Swedish online poker site Svenska Spel, which in 2005 sought permission from the Swedish government to run an online poker site in the interest of regulation.

Furthermore, based on the performance of Svenska Spel's online poker room and the population of California, Sandstrom believes a state-run poker site would exceed his expectations.

In 2006, Svenska Spel posted profits of over $685 million due in part to its online poker room, according to the company.

"Sweden has 9 million residents, California has 39 million residents," Sandstrom wrote on his site.

The measure also proposes that 10 percent of the site's net revenues benefit the California Gambling Addiction Fund (GAF).

Effective Jan. 1, 2007, gaming establishments in California are required to pay $100 per table to benefit the GAF.

Sandstrom has until Dec. 24, 2007 to collect 433,971 signatures to qualify his initiative for placement on the ballot in the California primary elections scheduled for Feb. 5, 2008.

Sandstrom could not be reached for comment.

Click here to view a copy of the initiative proposed by Sandstrom.

Online Poker to Fund Repair of Calif. Potholes is republished from
Emily D. Swoboda
Emily D. Swoboda