California’s contentious gaming wars took a turn this week when the Hollywood Park Casino and Cal-Pac Rancho Cordova cardrooms filed a lawsuit aimed at shutting down a ballot initiative that would allow Tribal operators to both expand their gaming menu and sue their competitors.
At the heart of issue is the California Sports Wagering Regulation and Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act, which could appear on ballots in November if enough support is raised. If passed, the bill would allow Tribal operators to offer craps, roulette and sports betting; it would also allow Tribal operators to directly sue cardrooms, according to a report on Legal Sports Report.
Cardroom operators don’t like any part of this bill, but they especially don’t like the idea of Tribal operators working with an expanded portfolio – a prospect that genuinely threatens the existence of cardrooms all together. To fight this existential threat, cardrooms are using a two-pronged strategy that includes a PR campaign, and the lawsuit.
On the PR front, cardroom operators are pointing to the fact that Cali’s 85 cardrooms generate about $500 million a year in local taxes to the areas where they operate. Tribal casinos, they point out, would not be paying taxes in under served areas like Inglewood (though they do pay taxes in the communities where they operate). The lawsuit, however, puts aside the tax question on focuses on a California law mandating one issue per ballot initiative. Cardroom operators point out that the proposed bill contains two issues (gaming expansion and lawsuit expansion).
The lawsuit is still a ways from anything like a settlement and it’s very unclear as whether or not California voters will be able to vote on gaming expansions in the fall. What is clear, however, is that California’s cardroom operators and Tribal gaming interests will continue fighting tooth and nail to protect and expand their share of the lucrative Golden State gaming market.