Posting date: May 24, 20,23 06:20h
Last updated: May 24, 2023 at 06:23h
They found something they could both agree on this week: no more card clubs. They found something on which they both agreed this week: there will be no more card clubs.
Gavin Newsom signed AB 341, on Tuesday. The bill was supported by over 40 cardrooms, and tribal operators. These two groups do not often agree. (Image: CA.gov).
The previous moratorium was established by the 1997 Gambling Control Act, which was periodically extended by the legislature for the next quarter century. But lawmakers were deadlocked on extending it by another year at the end of last year’s session.
Susan Jensen, executive director of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA), said she feared this would unleash “the prospect of unlimited cardroom gaming expansion without properly examining the impact this expansion will have on local communities.”
Perks for Small Cardrooms
The impasse in the legislature arose because the old moratorium restricted expansion for existing card clubs as well as prohibiting the issue of licenses for new ones. The lawmakers claimed that the moratorium on new card clubs and the expansion of existing ones was denying the surrounding communities extra tax dollars.
AB 341 allows existing licensed cardrooms with less than 20 gaming table to add 10 more over the next twenty years. They can add up to two in the first year and up to two more every four years thereafter.
While tribal operators have fiercely resisted any kind of commercial gaming expansion, they figured this was better than the “unlimited card room expansion” foretold by CNIGA. And the card rooms were hardly thrilled with the idea of boundless competition either.
“I am happy to have brought the tribes and cardrooms together in a historic consensus that has resulted in the bipartisan AB 341 becoming law,” said Assemblymember James Ramos (D-San Bernardino), who introduced the bill and is Native American.
Ramos said the new moratorium would “help ensure the vitality of the gaming industry by allowing for measured cardroom growth without over-expansion over the next 20 years.”
Tribal operators have long complained that the card rooms violate tribal exclusivity on house-banked games like blackjack by offering so-called “California games.” These are versions of casino-style games that take a rake from each hand while allowing players to play in the dealer position, as in a poker game.
But the tribes claim California games are too close to the class III casino versions and therefore violate their gaming compacts and the state constitution.
It’s a sticking point that has long stymied the development of the gaming industry in California.