The conflict between California’s cardrooms and tribes may finally be settled as the California Assembly Judiciary Committee advanced a bill that would allow Indian nations to sue cardrooms. Under SB 549, tribes will get a one-time lawsuit to resolve the matter.
California has had cardrooms ever since the California Gold Rush. At first, such establishments would offer games where players will bet against other players. Nowadays, however, cardrooms use third-party proposition players who serve as the bank in such games.
The cardrooms would usually have agreements with the TPPPs, which is a system that has previously been scrutinized by the local tribes. Various moves over the decades have seen the two parties try to gain an edge over their competitor. However, since California’s tribes are considered to be sovereign governments, they cannot sue or be sued.
The advancement of SB 549 seeks to solve this long-standing conflict in court. However, cardrooms fear that this move might put them out of business while rendering them unable to strike back.
Sen. Josh Newman explained that SB 549 does not take a side in the dispute. Instead, the measure will provide tribes with one chance to try to prove their claims that the cardrooms’ card games violate the California Constitution.
The Tribes Want to End This Conflict Once and For All
Under the bill, tribes will get a three-month window to conduct one lawsuit only against the cardrooms. The period will begin on January 1 and will put the tribes’ conviction to the test before a court.
John Christman, chair of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, believes that the measure is reasonable. He pointed out that the tribes believe the cardrooms have been illegally operating banked games for decades, which should be a vertical exclusively reserved for tribal casinos. Christman noted that studies say cardrooms are depriving gaming tribes of more than $100 million a year.
The tribes agree that it is best to let the court decide whether the cardrooms’ offerings violate the Constitution. According to them, the bill will allow the two parties to finally settle their conflict.
California’s Cardrooms Are Unamused
However, the cardrooms are not happy with the arrangement as it would not provide them with the ability to countersue their competitors. In addition, they believe that since the games were approved by the Bureau of Gambling Control and the attorney general, a lawsuit would challenge the state’s right to enact the law.
Ed Manning, a representative for the cardrooms, noted that every game the cardrooms are offering has been approved individually. He noted that the cardrooms are “driving within the speed limit” and slammed the tribes for still wanting to sue them. According to Manning, the tribes are opposed to the attorney general’s decision and want to sue the cardrooms while hiding behind their sovereign government status to avoid getting countersued.