January 4, 2022 4 min read


California Tribes Call Out Cardrooms on Belated Lawsuit Against 2022 Ballot Measure

Tribal casinos in California continue to adjust to the way the industry evolves. Part of this adjustment is fending off various lawsuits that try to disrupt what, in their opinion, is progress.

The latest head-butting involves all major Californian tribal operators, who are hoping to push the California Sports Wagering Regulation and Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act forth on the November 2022 ballot and expand their businesses by authorizing in-person wagering at casinos, but also add other activities, such as dice and roulette.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, two cardrooms, argue that the ballot initiative is unconstitutional. Whether the lawsuit succeeds may prove futile anyway, as the tribes are also working on another measure already.

Tribal Leaders Have Called Out The “Hypocrisy” of Cardrooms

In a filed response, tribal leaders have called out the cardrooms for their “hypocrisy” by saying that they had two years to file the suit. In their response, they also state that the conditions under which the lawsuit is filed are a “veiled political attempt” to gain leverage of a different ballot measure.

Not only that, but they added that the owner of Parkwest gave $150,000 to a committee whose goal was to oppose the betting measure submitted by the tribes.

Supporters of tribal gaming also had a similar standpoint on the lawsuit. Last Wednesday, they submitted a 32-page response in which they criticized both Parkwest Casino Cordova and Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood – the cardrooms in the matter – for their attempt.

According to these two cardrooms, the California Sports Wagering Regulation and Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act, which is backed by tribal operators, is in direct violation of the single-subject provision of the Constitution of California. In doing so, they hope that Shirley Weber, the secretary of state, will not publish the act.

Moreover, plaintiffs listed four chairs of tribes based in California and the Coalition to Authorize Regulated Sports Wagering, which is a pro-tribal group, as parties of interest in the case.

Cardrooms Argue That The Tribal Measure Makes Them Extremely Vulnerable

As Parkwest and Hollywood Park state, the tribal operators are using the sports betting measure to achieve their goal of operating Vegas-style casinos, and in doing so, the measure breaks the single-subject provision in multiple ways.

They explain that the Initiative actually forces voters in an all-or-nothing scenario, and it ties sports betting to previous controversial measures that the tribes have tried to obtain in the past but failed. Moreover, with the measure, they will be able to sue cardrooms for any type of misconduct.

According to the tribal measure, any entity or individual will be able to file a civic lawsuit against entities that are breaking the gaming laws of California, and if that turns out to be true, violators could be ordered to pay up to $10,000 per violation.

Of course, all of these claims are being denied by tribal operators. They state that if their measure doesn’t meet single-subject provisions, then the case is the same as the measure that is backed by cardrooms due to the fact that the commercially licensed facilities would be able to offer baccarat blackjack and other standard casino games. However, tribes are working on a different measure that acknowledges that the plaintiffs may win. This is where the Age-Verified Tribal Online and In-Person Sports Wagering & Homelessness Solutions Act comes in.

Just a reminder, the measure that is backed by cardrooms would allow tribal operators and all other gaming entities to offer sports betting and mobile betting services. Professional sports teams would also be able to team up with sports betting operators.

Two Other Initiatives Are Circulating In California

Apart from the measure that is backed by cardrooms, there are two additional measures that are awaiting approval or have gotten the green light to circulate a petition.

The first one is a select group of tribal operators that want tribal casinos to gain exclusive rights to mobile betting, while the second one is backed by seven national betting operators that have collected $100 million and promised to lift tribal communities.

In order to be included in the November ballot, measure organizers need to collect at least 997,139 valid signatures from eligible voters before the deadline, which is scheduled on April 26. That way, authorities will be able to review measures and determine whether they qualify for the ballot.

Filip Mishevski has been covering online gambling and cryptocurrencies for the past few years. He has written countless articles, how-to-guides, insights and news, and is keen on sharing his extensive knowledge in the aforementioned fields. He’s very passionate about soccer and MMA and is interested in how the online gambling industry will shape our future and thus, influence our lives.

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