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."