California bill seeks to further define games offered by non-Tribal cardrooms

August 17, 2023
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A 20-year moratorium on new cardrooms has already been passed; now Tribes seek to establish what games may be played outside their operations.

California legislators are returning to session this week over the management and proliferation of cardrooms within the state.

Senate Bill 549 would give the state’s Tribal Nations from January 1, 2024, to April 1, 2024, to file any legal action against cardrooms involved in disputes over their featured games.

In March, Bill AB341 was proposed by Native American State Assembly Member James Ramos, which would allow smaller cardrooms to expand while putting a moratorium on new cardrooms for the next 20 years.

In May, Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill, which included legislation that cardrooms with fewer than 20 tables may increase by 10 tables over the next two decades. Ramos commented that he was happy to have “brought the Tribes and cardrooms together.”

Now, issues involving the types of games provided in cardrooms, and the mandated rule that all players must be granted equal chance to act as the dealer, have led to the new bill.

Tribal casinos may offer slot machines, lottery games and “banked” card games like blackjack, where the dealer handles wagers. Non-Tribal cardrooms may only run “player-dealer” games like poker and pai gow.

Federally recognized Tribes operating independent casinos have given the Tribal nations more economic advancements, increased employment among Native Americans and even lowered mortality rates. The new bill reproduces terms in the previous Proposition 26, which was rejected by voters in California in November.

As well as limiting non-Tribal cardroom games, proposition 26 would have also allowed Tribes to gain control of sports betting and offer bets at certain horseracing tracks, as well as added roulette and dice games to the Tribal casino offerings.

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