To develop rules governing blackjack-style card games and rotations of the player-dealer role at California card rooms, the Bureau of Gambling Control (BGC) which reports to California Attorney General Rob Bonta, has released a draft language of the rules. In California, online casinos are still not allowed.
The BGC draft regulations state that no blackjack game must be permitted. With regard to historically house-banked card games offered in California card rooms, the new restrictions are intended to settle a long-running disagreement with California Indian tribes.
“This attorney general is the second in a row that has proposed legislation aimed at bringing these illegal banked games into conformity,” says Jacob Mejia, the vice president of public affairs for Pechanga.
He added that the restriction on blackjack is noteworthy, but it also ought to have applied to other games.
According to Kyle Kirkland, the president of the California Gaming Association, the ideas, if adopted as written, would cause severe hardship for the thousands of California families, and several California cities that depend on cardrooms.
He continued by saying that they are carefully examining the potential legal, procedural, and economic ramifications as well as alternative ways to respond. The California card rooms sector has never been reluctant to comment on new rules and defend its established legal authority to provide table games.
The BGC requested that parties submit any proposed modifications to the language of the proposal in writing by October 26, 2023.
Tribes in the state are the only ones that have the privilege to provide house-banked games, thanks to Proposition 1A (2000). Other gambling enterprises are forbidden under Penal Code 330 from providing games that entail a “bank” or “percentage,” especially “21.”
Cardrooms set up a structure where they collaborate with third-party players who act as the bank at the tables. This allows games to be played almost exactly like standard blackjack.
Following the enactment of the regulations, the BGC permits cardrooms running previously authorized games with the phrase “blackjack” to continue doing so for an entire year. The rules set guidelines for california card rooms to follow when developing a legal blackjack variant.
Counsel for the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, Jeff Butler, told reporters that the tribe had taken issue with the fact that blackjack was being played in these places rather than rotational and banked games. The complaint, he said, has been made for a very long time, but these businesses continue to violate the law.
The rotation of the bank between regular players at the table and third-party players is another issue that Indian tribes experience with the way cardrooms run table games. Rotation is available, although it seldom happens since normal players decide not to take on the bank’s risk.
The game must stop if the player-dealer position is not rotated a minimum of twice every 40 minutes, according to the proposed draft laws. The player-dealer rotation guidelines for baccarat and any legal blackjack variants would apply as blackjack would be forbidden.
In order to have legal standing to sue cardrooms about house-banked games, tribal interests proposed a bill to the California legislature. In recent years, tribes have filed a number of cases against cardroom games, but they have all been dismissed procedurally.
They requested that politicians support a lawsuit to settle the conflict with cardrooms by introducing SB 549. The Assembly Judiciary Committee heard the measure and then approved it. The term of the California legislature concluded on September 15. However, SB 549 will carry into 2024.
Bigknife said that the fact that the BGC released these proposed restrictions was evidence that the attorney general disagreed with how cardrooms are run. However, passing this law is a better and more practical approach to settling the disputes between cardrooms and tribes.
Bigknife argued that this might lead to a judge’s procedural decision entirely undoing years of regulatory work. The fact that it would progress through the courts based only on procedural rules would result in a significant extra time delay.
While SB 549 will also take some time to make its way through the courts, it will finally provide a conclusive response to the issues of game legality and tribe exclusivity violations. Because of this, SB 549 is the recommended remedy.