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The California Bureau of Gambling Control (CBGC) is planning to implement new rules which could make standard table games taxing to play at non-tribal venues. It’s a move which the trade group representing the state’s cardrooms thinks is a significant risk to the industry.

The regulatory agency for gaming activities in the Golden State, the California Gambling Control Commission (CGCC), has been holding hearings for a year. Resulting rules changes could essentially change how table games are played at the state’s 72 cardrooms, possibly making the venues much less attractive to gamblers than in-state tribal rivals and Las Vegas casinos.

California cardrooms like Larry Flynt’s Lucky Lady Casino and Hustler Casino, The Bike, and Hawaiian Gardens, all located in the Los Angeles area, don’t offer slot machines. The other major difference between these venues and state tribal gaming properties like Morongo and Pechanga, is that dealers at the cardrooms act as the house and the venue earns by assessing a fee, tied to the table limit, on each hand played.

The CGCC’s newly proposed rules require that players take turns acting as the banker, switching that task every two hands. The game ends if no one wants to do that.

In a statement provided to Casino.org, the CGA, the cardroom trade group said, “The California Gaming Association (CGA) is appalled by the proposed regulations. The Bureau’s proposal exceeds its statutory authority.”

The worry is that cardroom patrons just won’t want to be “working” during what’s meant to be leisure time.

Long-Running Fight

In what has been a long-running, contentious dispute between cardrooms and their tribal rivals, the CGCC proposal represents the latest bombardment. A California tribal consortium disclosed an attempt to get sports betting on the 2020 Golden State ballot last month, an initiative which not only bans betting on college sports, but would also abandon cardrooms.

The enforcement arm for gaming concerned matters in the largest US state, the CBGC, is supervised by the attorney general’s office. Xavier Becerra, California Attorney General, a Democrat, has received considerable campaign contributions from many tribal gaming groups, prompting some gossip in local media reports that he’s not in support of cardrooms.

For its part, the CGA remains worried the rules changes disregard existing precedent and could represent much harm to local economies.

The CGA said, “The proposal disregards existing precedent, and proposes changes to the way cardrooms have been licensed to play games for over forty years without harm to or complaint from the public. If these regulations were adopted as proposed, they would kill the cardroom industry and devastate dozens of communities and thousands of working California families across the state.”

Last year, the gaming industry and tribal governments contributed a combined $325,600 to Beccerra’s reelection campaign, an effort that he won with more than 63 percent of the vote.

Economic Effect

The economic argument is reliable. The California cardroom industry yields $5.6 billion annually to the state economy, while supporting more than 32,000 direct and indirect jobs, as Casino.org reported last month.

Moreover, those venues send $500 million in tax receipts to state coffers annually.

The CGA said, “This proposal is a clear attack on the cardroom industry and a message that the Bureau is intent on eliminating this lawful $5.6 billion industry and putting 32,000 Californians out of work. We are continuing to review our options, but we intend to defend our industry, its right to operate, and the communities we serve and support.”

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