On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 341 into law, which prevents new cardrooms from opening in the state for the next 20 years. However, existing cardrooms with less than 20 tables can add up to 10 new table games. Under the provisions of the law, the expansion should happen gradually, allowing cardroom operators to add two new tables in the first year after the law comes into effect. After that, a maximum of two tables can be added every four years. The law aims to ensure steady growth of the gambling industry without over-expansion.
Small Cardrooms in California Allowed to Add Up to 10 More Table Games
Assembly Bill 341 finally became law this Monday after Gov. Newsom signed the legislation, reinstating the moratorium on new cardrooms until 2043. Sponsored by Assemblymember James Ramos, the legislation won the support of over 40 California tribes and cardrooms, agreeing to extend the moratorium period for two more decades. In March, the California State Assembly approved the bill on a 68-1 vote, while the Senate unanimously passed the legislation earlier this month.
The moratorium was initially established by the Gambling Control Act of 1997. The legislation expanded it repeatedly until it finally expired on January 1, 2023. To ensure the healthy growth of the gambling industry, tribes and cardroom operators has joined forces, supporting AB 341, under which no new cardrooms can open before January 1, 2043.
Existing cardrooms operating fewer than 20 table games can add up to 10 new tables over the next 20 years. To avoid over-expansion, the law allows cardrooms to introduce two more table games in the first year after AB 341 comes into effect, and two more table games every four years. The bill exempts the two cardrooms in San Jose, allowing them to add up to 15 table games each.
Tribes and Cardroom Operators Work Together to Ensure Gambling Market Growth Without Overexpansion
In a statement, Ramos thanked Gov. Newsom for his support and said that the bill united tribes and cardroom operators in an effort to ensure the “vitality” of the gambling market. Keith Sharp, President of the California Cardroom Alliance, said that the expansion of smaller cardrooms would create more jobs and boost local economies. Morongo Tribal Chairman Charles Martin added that lawmakers’ support for AB 341 reflects California voters’ will.
The California cardroom industry can be traced back to the 1800s. In 1998, the state adopted the Gambling Control Act and established a regulatory body – the California Gambling Control Commission and Bureau of Gambling Control. The Gambling Control Act imposed a 10-year moratorium on new cardrooms and cardroom expansion. But small cardrooms did not agree with the moratorium and asked lawmakers to allow them to expand their operations.
But California tribes said such a move would violate their exclusive rights on house-banked games. As a result, Senator Bill Dodd told the tribes that they must reach a consensus with cardroom operators if they want the moratorium to be extended.