New Cardrooms Can Open In California After Nearly 30 Years

Written By Aleeyah Jadavji on January 23, 2023
Moratorium on new card rooms in California ends

A moratorium on new cardrooms in California expired on Jan. 1, 2023. For the last 28 years, new card rooms were barred in The Golden State.

Senate vote tried to extend moratorium

While there are numerous cardrooms across California, especially in casinos, online poker in California is still prohibited. Players looking to shuffle up and deal from home can play sweepstakes or social games.

With the moratorium gone, anyone can now open new California cardrooms as long as they adhere to state and local laws. They also must obtain a license

California senators voted on extending the moratorium, but a tie killed the extension.

A history of the moratorium in California

California has a long history of cardrooms in the state.

The moratorium on opening new cardrooms began in 1995. Three years later, lawmakers passed the California Gambling Control Act (GCA). This outlined terms for licensing and specified laws card rooms have to follow.

The GCA also extended the moratorium on new card rooms through Jan. 1, 2015. There have been multiple extensions since then.

Last September, a California Senate committee voted on extending the moratorium by another year. Voting on Senate Bill 637 deadlocked at 3-3, as nine members did not vote. The tie caused the extension to fail, so the moratorium was lifted on Jan. 1 after nearly three decades.

What does it take to open a new card room?

Potential owners face several meticulous steps to open a new cardroom.

The first step is to obtain a valid state gambling license. The Bureau of Gambling Control also performs a background check on potential owners to ensure a business will run properly. Owners must also comply with local laws regarding the number of tables and types of games at the cardroom.

They also must obtain relevant licenses for employees.

End of moratorium will have positive impact on economy

The expiration of the moratorium could have a positive impact on the economy.

According to the GCA, cardrooms have been in California for more than 150 years. There are currently 72 game rooms operating in the state. More cardrooms mean more jobs. Revenue can go back into local communities, and the state benefits from taxes collected.

The CGA estimates over 32,000 people are employed within card rooms, which pay around $1.64 billion in wages.

“Tax revenue generated by California cardrooms totals roughly $500 million, with $398.8 million in state taxes and $100.9 million in local jurisdiction gaming taxes.”

Photo by Shutterstock
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Aleeyah Jadavji

Aleeyah hails from Toronto, Ontario in Canada and has been working predominantly in the poker industry since 2015. From writing articles, to interviewing big winners and live reporting on poker's biggest stages, she's seen it all. Aleeyah loves to cook and create content to showcase her passion for food and travel. She also loves sriracha, and doesn't trust anyone that believes it's not a top tier condiment.

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