Earlier this year, a moratorium on new card rooms ended in California. That meant, in theory, that entrepreneurs could apply for licenses and build cardrooms throughout the state.
However, a legislator introduced a California gambling bill that would reinstate the moratorium putting the possibility of expansion on hold. And now, five tribes in the state have voiced their support.
The bill, AB341 introduced late last month by Assemblyman James Ramos, would activate the moratorium through Jan. 1, 2043.
California cardrooms give support
The California Cardroom Alliance (CCA) is the lead advocacy group for cardrooms in the state. Soon after Ramos submitted the bill, the organization put out a statement applauding the call to re-enact the moratorium. The CCA, which represents tens of thousands of cardroom workers, said they look forward to working with lawmakers to get the bill passed into law.
“We appreciate the leadership of Assemblymember Ramos in bringing together cardrooms and tribal casinos with the introduction of a balanced legislative proposal,” the group said. “We look forward to working with the tribal community, the State Legislature and the Governor’s Administration to pass a measure that supports communities across California.”
Joint tribal statement in favor of California gambling bill
Existing cardrooms aren’t the only ones that could suffer from AB341. Some of the tribes in the state see cardroom expansion as a threat to their revenue. If more non-tribal California gambling facilities open up then fewer patrons will walk through tribal casino doors.
Five tribes issued an official statement in support of the bill:
- Cahuilla Band of Indians
- Morongo Band of Mission Indians
- San Manuel Band of Mission Indians
- Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians
- Soboba Band of Lluiseno Indian
In their statement, the tribes emphasized how casinos provide self-reliance.
“For over 20 years, California voters have consistently opposed unfettered expansion of gaming across California and have stood with Indian tribes in support of gaming on federally recognized tribal lands. Tribal casinos have provided a pathway to self-reliance for tribes.”
The tribes went on to note that the tribal casino industry creates more than 125,000 jobs and generates billions in economic activity. Opening new cardrooms would infringe on that growth.
However, the five tribes did indicate they support the bill’s provision to allow existing cardrooms with 20 or fewer tables to expand incrementally each year.
“We believe the proposed legislation by Assemblymember Ramos provides a balance by allowing for a measured expansion of California’s cardroom industry. We look forward to working with the Legislature, the cardroom industry and the tribal community on finding a balance that is consistent with California voters’ support of tribal gaming.”
The “balance” the tribes refer to is debatable. If the bill passes, each qualifying cardroom could expand by up to two tables the first year. After that, they can add up to two tables every four years. Additionally, that expansion would need to go to a popular vote to be approved.