Members of the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the relocation of a card room to a former restaurant in the northern California community of El Dorado Hills.
A vacant space at 3909 Park Drive in El Dorado Hills, which once housed the Sienna Modern American Grill, will be transformed into a card room with poker tables, as well as an adjacent restaurant that has yet to be named.
The Board of Supervisors is comprised of five representatives, one from each of the five districts in El Dorado County, which lies east of Sacramento. The vote to approve the card room in what is called the La Borgata Center was 5-0.
The card room is the first in the community.
How are card rooms legal in California?
California card rooms have become hotly debated as there are nearly 100 of them licensed across the state. (Although not all are active.)
Tribal leaders argue that their agreements with state and federal authorities grant them exclusive rights to operate gaming activity in California.
So far, tribes have been unsuccessful in blocking the locally-regulated and operated card rooms. California Nations Indian Gaming Association Chairman James Siva wrote recently in an op-ed that the card rooms “violate California law and infringe upon tribal exclusive gaming rights.”
State courts have yet to permit tribal nations or organizations like CNIGA to legally challenge card rooms’ right to exist.
Board did not receive any comments from the public
During the meeting of the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, First Vice-Chair John Hidahl from the 1st District admitted that there have been “significant concerns” from people in the El Dorado community over the card room. Nevertheless, he supported the project, saying “any change in our environment [will always bring] concerns, and rightfully so.”
Hidahl read into the record a statement from the El Dorado County Sheriff Jeff Leikauf:
“[The] El Dorado community has expressed significant concerns regarding the establishment of the card room. As [the] elected sheriff I have received numerous complaints from community members who have voiced apprehension about potential increases in criminal activity,” and that the card room “could potentially impact the overall quality of life” in El Dorado.
While Hidahl admitted that the sheriff’s views were “fair representations of concern,” he also said that “I don’t expect, personally, problems with this card room,” which will be in his district.
Hidahl said he’s encountered many citizens who welcome a legal card room as a place to “take their kids [and] teach them the card games.” He cited the “positive track record” of card rooms in the state as a reason to expect no problems in El Dorado Hills.
A sheriff’s report supported approval of the card room despite concerns.
“[The Sheriff’s Office] has found that the approval of this license will not substantially aggravate crime or make law enforcement unduly difficult; is not detrimental to the public peace, health, safety, or welfare; and will not result in the violation of applicable zoning, fire, building, or other applicable laws and regulations.”
There was no public comment either in person or online on the matter.
The application for the card room was made by Randy Yaple, who holds a card room license formerly belonging to Blacksheep Casino in Cameron Park. Under state laws signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2022, no new card rooms may be opened. Existing licenses, however, can continue to operate.