Adapt or die. That seems to be the philosophy for Golden West Casino, a card room in Bakersfield, California.
The card room is considering a new location on the north side of Bakersfield ahead of the planned opening of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tejon just a few miles away, according to a report from Bakersfield.com.
Golden West’s move is an act of survival that card rooms face as federally recognized tribes in the state push to protect their revenue by limiting the growth of card rooms.
Golden West Casino hopes to relocate cardroom to North Bakersfield
The Golden West Casino is just south of downtown Bakersfield, where it’s done business for nearly three decades. The new location it’s looking at is on the north side of the city near Meadows Field Airport. And it’s around 15 minutes away from its current location.
The property the card room wants to build near the airport would be nearly twice the size of its current location. Michael Bowers, a consultant for the project said Golden West wants to level up its offerings and attract younger gamblers.
“I think they (Golden West’s owners) want to bring a better product to Bakersfield, meaning a better location—a location that has a lot more amenities to offer,” Bowers said in a post by Bakersfield.com.
Potential new location puts distance between Golden West and Hard Rock
Golden West’s owners know the Tejon Tribe’s Hard Rock will open in less than a year. Hard Rock’s website notes it will take about 20 months to complete construction on the new property, which will include:
- A casino
- 13 restaurants and bars
- A concert venue
The Tejon tribe won approval for its casino in November, and using the casino’s 20-month timeline, the Hard Rock Tejon should open in the spring of 2024.
Generally speaking, a casino opening near a card room threatens the card room’s foot traffic. But Golden West is under a greater threat because of Hard Rock’s location.
The tribal casino will sit right after the Instertate 5/State Route 99 split south of Bakersfield. The Hard Rock threatens to capture most of the traffic heading into Bakersfield.
By moving to the north side of Bakersfield, Golden West puts some distance between itself and Hard Rock. Additionally, it gives Golden West a chance to build a loyal following on the north side of the city and keep its customers from its previous location.
Golden West Casino’s pivot highlights California’s cardroom complex history
California’s cardroom storyline goes back three decades. The state had a moratorium on new cardrooms that was slated to end this past January after nearly 30 years.
Legislators voted on whether to extend the ban—the vote deadlocked. Consequently, the ban ended and the Bureau of Gambling Control opened up applications for new card rooms.
The following month, Assemblyman James Ramos proposed a bill to activate the moratorium through Jan. 1, 2043. The bill received support from the California Cardroom Alliance, representing many cardrooms and multiple tribes in the state.
The argument from the card rooms and tribes is straightforward: No one wants competition cutting into their gaming operations. Cardrooms like Golden West face the reality that new casinos could put a significant deficit in their income.
Everyone will be happiest, the idea goes, if we keep the balance of cardrooms and casinos as it is.