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California man seeking support for state-owned online card room

2 August 2007

Anthony "Tuff Fish" Sandstrom has been entertaining poker fans for years with his Youtube.com driven self-deprecating web casts that feature his bad beats, foul language and endearing personality.

But these days, Sandstrom is a little more serious.

Sandstrom received approval this week from the California Secretary of State's Office to circulate a petition that would create a state-run online poker room that would work in conjunction with the state's lottery system.

The petition, called the Initiative for Potholes Repair Funded by a California State Owned Online Poker site, needs 430,000 signatures by Christmas 2007 to be put on a statewide ballot, according to the secretary's office.

See Sandstrom's Web site here.

"I am just a guy who wants to play poker at home when I don't feel like making an hour drive to a card room or casino," wrote the 61-year old Sandstrom on his initiative's Web site. "I am going to make a mighty effort to make safe, legal, and accessible online poker possible."

Sandstrom's initiative calls for 90 percent of the online poker room's profits to fix potholes in California's vast road network. The petition also earmarks 10 percent for the California Gambling Addiction Fund.

"PS: I am momumentally tired of the sorry state of the local streets," Sandstrom wrote.

The passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in October, 2006 made it illegal for U.S. financial institutions to conduct transactions with online gambling firms, forcing most third-party financial processors out of the U.S. market.

NETeller, the largest and most popular e-wallet service in North America before the UIGEA's passage, was hit the hardest, losing 54 percent of its revenue in the time since its co-founders Stephen Lawrence and John LeFebvre were arrested last January.

NETeller left the U.S. market earlier this year and its co-founders recently plead guilty to federal money laundering charges. With NETeller went several other e-wallets in addition to major online gambling firms like 888.com and Party Gaming.

Party Poker, once the largest of the online poker rooms, was Sandstrom's favorite site.

"Now playing online poker is troublesome, and funding options are scarce, expensive, and risky," Sandstrom wrote.

Sandstrom is trying to take advantage of a UIGEA stipulation that allows states to decide whether or not to allow online gaming inside their borders.

In addition to personal freedom arguments, Sandstrom's Web site estimates that California would generate $40 - $500 million in online poker profits. He cites 888.com and Sweden's governmentally-owned Svenska Spel as examples.

888.com reported $36 million in fourth quarter revenue, according to Sandstrom. His Web site also details how Sweden has attracted 200,000 players to their online poker room, which is expected to generate more than $32 million dollars annually.

Sandtrom's final point - Sweden has nine million residents, paltry compared to the 39 million residents of California.

"The people of the State of California recognize that a number of online poker sites exist today, that these online poker sites are extremely profitable, and that large numbers of Californians play at these sites," Sandstrom wrote. "Money that is leaving California for these sites would be of greater benefit to California if kept in California."

California man seeking support for state-owned online card room is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane

Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.
Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.