California Gaming Association Calls For Action

The California Gaming Association has requested that Governor Gavin Newsom take action and shut down the tribal casinos in the state. The Association is hoping that Newsom will listen to their request in an effort to keep the state safe.

The California Gaming Association (CGA) represents the card rooms that are located in the state, and these card rooms act as casinos. The card rooms have mostly been shut down for a second time due to the rising COVID-19 numbers, and they want the same thing to happen to tribal casinos.

The CGA does not have any control over the tribal casinos, and most state governments don’t have the authority to shut them down either. Each of the tribes has sovereign status, and they don’t have to follow state laws and regulations.

The CGA believes that Newsom needs to take action to protect the residents of the state, and they want the casinos to be shut down immediately. The state of California saw more than 8,000 new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, and the state will be shut down again.

Governor Newsom ordered an immediate shutdown of all indoor activities, and that includes bars, restaurants, and zoos. Card rooms are included in this order as well, and they believe that tribal casinos should be shut down as well.

Most tribal casinos in the state started to reopen their doors in mid-May, even though Newsom had asked them to stay close. The tribal casinos decided to shut down on their own in mid-March, but they decided to reopen after just two months.

All of the tribal casinos that have reopened have implemented several new health and safety protocols in an effort to keep both guests and employees safe. These restrictions are still in place, but the CGA is worried that they are not enough.

Could Be Loophole in Compacts

Even though the state government does not have the authority to legislate over sovereign nations, the CGA believes that Newsom does have that power in this situation. The CGA has argued that there is language in the gaming compacts that each tribe signs that gives Newsom the power to step in.

The compacts state that the class III gaming properties cannot operate in a manner that endangers public health. The CGA believes that public health is at risk, and they are hoping that Newsom feels the same way.

Most governors tend to stay away from trying to govern over sovereign nations, which will likely be the route that Newsom takes. If the state attempts to step in, the tribal nations will likely file a federal lawsuit that could end up costing the state millions of dollars.

Newsom could ask for a meeting with the tribal leaders, and he could simply make some suggestions. The final decision though, will likely be up to the tribes, and they are unlikely to shut their doors for a second time.

Sides Already at Odds in State

The tribal casinos have already been at odds with the state in recent months on the topic of sports betting. Lawmakers in the state attempted to legalize sports betting, but the tribal casinos were strongly opposed.

Eventually, the sports betting bill was removed from the table, and the issue will not be brought back up until 2022. Tribal casinos were also trying to get a referendum on the ballot that would have given them exclusive sports betting rights.

Card rooms were left out of both proposals, and they have expressed anger for not getting the chance to offer sports betting. The CGA believes that tribal casinos are getting preferential treatment, and they believe that they should be given the same opportunities.


Logan is based in Los Angeles and is an avid poker player having played in tournaments across the globe. He covers both poker & regulatory affairs.