Tribal Leaders To CA Attorney General: Fix The Table Games Issue Now

Written By Jessica Welman on July 16, 2017 - Last Updated on July 31, 2020
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[toc]Earlier this month, the leaders of tribal casinos across California convened in Sacramento. The leadership discussed several things, but one of the biggest causes for concern is California card rooms.

More specifically, the tribes are increasingly frustrated that card rooms are, in their minds, circumventing the rules when it comes to table games.

Tribes want stricter regulations on banker firms

In 2000, a proposition passed in California limiting Vegas-style table games exclusively to tribal casinos. Card rooms found a way around this though by offering what is called “California table games.” In these games, players play against one another, not the house. Then the house collects a time-based administrative fee.

Like in poker, there is a dealer button that passes around the table. The player with the button serves as the dealer/banker for the hand. They pay out all the winning bets in the hand as well as collect the money from losing hands. Players can be the dealer for two hands, then the button moves.

Most California card rooms allow players to decline the button. If they do, a third-party proposition player (TPPP) pays the dealer money instead. There are several firms across the state who work with casinos to bank these games.

What tribes want is for players to ante every hand. Additionally, tribes want the button to be mandatory for players at the table. Their argument is these TPPP firms eliminate the button, making the games too similar to their Vegas counterparts.

Attorney General briefly attended tribal leadership meeting

Newly appointed California Attorney General Xavier Becerra attended a portion of the July 6 tribal meeting. During that time, the leadership discussed several issues, and only briefly touched on the table games issue.

A tribal rep who attended the meeting told Dave Palermo of about Becerra’s comments on the subject.

“[Becerra] alluded to the fact that there were outstanding issues related to the card rooms and tribal gaming rights. He said, ‘We’re looking at that.’”

Card rooms in California do not have a great reputation for strict regulations at the moment. Thanks to the raid of the Bicycle Casino earlier this year, there is more scrutiny on day-to-day operations at these card rooms. There are also more questions about whether or not oversight of the card rooms is working.

CA card rooms are a billion-dollar industry

The card rooms in the state certainly do not want to crack down on what kind of games they offer. Moreover, because these card rooms are a billion-dollar industry, the local governments where they are located do not want to lose money to tribal casinos either. Tribal casinos are a billion-dollar industry too though, so these are two heavy hitters at odds here.

Tribes continue to just talk about their frustrations, but it is becoming increasingly likely they will act on them if something does not change soon.

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Jessica Welman

A graduate of USC and Indiana University, Jessica Welman has long been involved in the poker industry. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and as the managing editor for

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