California Coalition, Cantor Gaming Team Up

Horse Racing United partners with Las Vegas company for potential online poker site.

Cantor Gaming and a California horse racing industry coalition announced July 27 that they are teaming up to provide an intrastate Internet poker platform pending state legislative approval of such gaming.

A leading company in the field of mobile casino gaming, Las Vegas-based Cantor Gaming announced in a press release that it would provide the California racing coalition, Horse Racing United, with "the technology and supporting infrastructure required for a world-class intrastate Internet poker platform, capable of offering online poker wagering to registered players in the State of California."

The current bill in the state legislature was pulled by its author, Sen. Roderick Wright, prior to a scheduled committee vote last month. But the measure was expected to undergo further negotiations and reconsideration when the Legislature reconvenes after its summer recess Aug. 6. If not passed this year, the proposal is expected to be back on the legislative agenda in 2013.

The bill, which would restrict approval to play Internet poker to registered California residents only, has stalled in the face of opposition from some California tribal casinos. They are concerned with the effect on-line gambling could have on their current operations and many also oppose the inclusion of the race tracks as a potential licensee.

Revenue to the cash-strapped state has been estimated at $300 million for the first year of online poker, primarily through a $30 million first-year license fee for operators. California racing, losing ground to states with alternative gaming, sees Internet poker as a way to help stabilize a declining industry that remains an important part of the state's economy.

Horse Racing United's membership includes representatives from Santa Anita Park, Del Mar, Golden Gate Fields, Oak Tree Racing Association, Thoroughbred Owners of California, California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, and California Authority of Racing Fairs, according to the press release.

If legislation is passed and signed into law and HRU is approved as one of the limited number of authorized license holders in the state, Cantor Gaming would provide technology and supporting infrastructure to the Internet poker platform. Racing maintains that under the 2001 law approving Advance Deposit Wagering, it is the only entity in the state currently authorized to conduct online gaming.

"In order to provide new revenue for the State, protect California jobs and make sure California is economically competitive, Horse Racing United is committed to working with the State of California to seek a legal Internet poker solution that works for all parties," said Josh Rubinstein, senior vice president for development of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, in a statement.

"The California horse racing and breeding industry is responsible for the employment of nearly 50,000 Californians, including many lower paid workers who have been hit especially hard by the recession," Rubenstein added. "All told our industry creates approximately $2.5 billion in total economic impact for the state on an annual basis. We are currently the only industry authorized to conduct online gaming, which contributes a significant and growing percentage of our industry's revenue and tax dollars. Cantor Gaming's technological capabilities and infrastructure support can help Horse Racing United provide California with a state-of-the-art platform for online poker."

Lee M. Amaitis, president and chief executive officer of Cantor Gaming, said: "In concert with its affiliates, Cantor Gaming has more than 800 professionals in California, serving gaming, financial, real estate, and other industries. As a leading innovator in mobile casino gaming and race and sports wagering, Cantor Gaming is excited about the potential opportunity to support the state's effort to generate significant new sources of revenue during these challenging budget times."

He continued: "As other states begin to move to legalize online gaming, California is well-positioned to leverage its size and generate revenue that otherwise would not exist. The passage of this legislation is essential to Horse Racing United being selected as a licensee. If enacted, it will provide additional financial support to California's Horse Racing industry, adding stability to approximately 50,000 jobs the industry supports directly and indirectly and setting a new chapter in its rich history."