Gambling Legislation

California’s attempt to expand cardroom market hits a snag

An Assembly committee has advanced legislation to give state tribes the ability to sue cardrooms

A measure just passed by the city council in Ventura, CA, about cardrooms within its limits might be in trouble. The opposition from California Indian tribes towards cardrooms remains strong, as they urge lawmakers to seek legal validation from the courts regarding the legislation that permits the games. On the other hand, casino operators firmly contend that local tribes aim to push for the closure of casinos under state control. Offering their support to the tribes, the California Assembly Judiciary Committee stands with the tribes.

In the past years, the courts have dismissed numerous lawsuits brought forth by these tribes. Nevertheless, Senator Josh Newman has taken the initiative to propose legislation dictating that the courts must resolve racial disagreements within the realm of casinos. Last Wednesday, the Assembly Judiciary Committee conducted a hearing on SB549. At the same time, James Siva, executive director of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA), expressed optimism to certain reporters that once the bill is successfully enacted, it will bring an end to the ongoing dispute surrounding card games.

For over twenty years, the tribe has held dominion over the state’s gambling scene, being the exclusive supplier of bank games. In their efforts to maintain their stronghold, they seek to prohibit card rooms from introducing bank games such as baccarat and blackjack.

SB 549, named the Tribal Declaratory Relief Act of 2023, aims to grant state courts the power to authorize declaratory relief. The primary objective of this act is to examine the legitimacy of particular games facilitated by California card clubs. Furthermore, the court will assess whether these games infringe upon the gaming privileges of indigenous tribes within the region.

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