Californian tribal casinos are going after competition, playing on the legal use of “player-banked” games. According to the native operators, styling any product in those terms would be in direct violation of the state’s pre-determined gaming rules.
California’s Tribal Gaming Operators Go on the Offensive
Two California-based tribal gaming operators have decided to pursue competitors who use the terms “player-banked” games, which, the entities have claimed, are against the state’s active legislation.
Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians and the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians have both lodged lawsuits against various cardrooms across the entire state. The casinos are arguing that competitors cannot be offering “house-banked” games whereby players are playing against the house, and not against each other.
However, most card rooms have decided to opt for a loop in the legislation, styling the games as “player-banked” games, in which case someone assumes the role of the banker, and effectively eliminates the need for the casino to assign an entity.
To understand the conflict better, however, you need to be aware of the legal changes that were introduced in 2016 when the Bureau of Gambling Control (BGC) in California allowed casinos to run such games as long as they the bank rotates every 60 minutes in the very least.
However, none of this has seemed to sit well with the tribal operators who are now going after competitors who are making full benefit of this exemption. Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians Chairman Bo Mazzeti has said, quoted by Global Gaming Business Magazine, that it was high time for the tribes to come together and seek a way to put a stop to the practice.
A Lawsuit to Rectify the Situation
Despite the lawsuit, Mr. Mazzeti has said that nobody is seeking to challenge a business’ right to operate. Rather, he, and his fellow executives are addressing the particular issue whereby certain businesses are exempt from a state rule regarding gambling. It’s also worth noting that Mr. Mazzeti may have a good case given that tribal operators have been contributing quite a bit to the economy in the state.
With this in mind, the lawsuit will only seek to change that, without actually asking for more stringent measures against the operators. However, the tribes are not going to content themselves with just eradicating the games that are illegal, as they claim.
They will also demand further tax reliefs from the state, arguing that with California allowing these operators to maintain rooms dedicated to specific player-banked games, the operators have been losing revenue and even the opportunity to add more staff.
California has long been trying to appease the state’s competing casino factions. On the one hand, tribal operators have uncontested claims on how the casino business should be run whereas private operators are also quite determined to find a way to claim a larger share of the market.
California’s reluctance to act and risk falling out with both parties may now spell a legal contest between all parties involved. But far from casinos being the only problem, the state’s failure to apply timely measures have also led to two serious drawbacks in the industry as a whole.
Sports betting and poker remain closed topics until such a time that a clear legal framework exists. What Mr. Mazzeti and his fellow tribal operators do is definitely not laudable, but it may just give the state the incentive it needs to settle the loose laws once and for all.