New California Cardroom Moratorium Doesn’t Really Affect 35 Cardrooms

Written By Matthew Bain on May 30, 2023
California cardroom moratorium doesn't affect 33 cardrooms, from

Yes, there’s a new California cardroom moratorium until 2043. Yes, that means no new cardrooms can acquire licenses for at least 20 years. Yes, the most popular cardrooms in the state now cannot expand their offerings through 2043, either.

But, if you read the moratorium closely, you’ll see that the ban on gambling expansion really doesn’t apply to 35 of the state’s 55 currently active California cardrooms. That’s just above 60% of the cardrooms.

According to AB 341, local governments can amend an ordinance that applies to cardrooms that had fewer than 20 tables as of Jan. 1, 2023. These smaller cardrooms are allowed to add up to 10 additional gaming tables over the next five years — a maximum of two each year.

The California cardrooms that can still expand

Currently, 35 of the 55 active and operating cardrooms in California had fewer than 20 tables as of Jan. 1, 2023.

Here are those 35 cardrooms.

CardroomLocationNumber of tables
Ace & VineNapa9
Bankers CasinoSalinas11
California Grand CasinoPacheco19
Capitol CasinoSacramento17
Casino 99Chico8
Casino ChicoChico7
Casino ClubRedding5
Casino MercedMerced6
Central Coast CasinoGrover Beach4
Club San RafaelSan Rafael4
Empire Sportsmen's AssociationModesto10
Garlic City ClubGilroy10
Kings Card ClubStockton11
Limelight Card RoomSacramento10
Livermore CasinoLivermore9
Marina ClubMarina10
Napa Valley CasinoAmerican Canyon16
Oceanview CasinoSanta Cruz4
Old Cayucos TavernCayucos2
Outlaws Card ParlourAtascadero5
Palace Poker CasinoHayward13
Parkwest Casino 580Livermore10
Parkwest Casino CordovaRancho Cordova11
Parkwest Casino LodiLodi15
Parkwest Casino LotusSacramento17
Parkwest Casino MantecaManteca13
Parkwest Casino SonomaPetaluma18
Stars CasinoTracy9
The Aviator CasinoDelano10
The Nineteenth HoleAntioch5
The Saloon at Stones Gambling HallCitrus Heights17
The Tavern at Stones Gambling HallCitrus Heights17
Towers CasinoGrass Valley8
Turlock Poker RoomTurlock14
Westlane Card RoomStockton11

Commerce Casino, larger cardrooms can’t expand

Reading between the lines, it becomes clear the tribal-backed AB 341 was not meant to target smaller cardrooms that don’t pose a threat to California’s tribal casinos. It was meant to prevent the state’s biggest cardroom casinos, such as Commerce Casino, The Gardens Casino and Parkwest Bicycle Casino, from growing and stiffening gambling competition for tribes.

Cardrooms can’t offer slot machines like tribal casinos. But they can offer poker, as well as modified table games that skirt the rules preventing any house-banked games being played off reservation land. For all intents and purposes, these modified table games feel the exact same as table games at tribal casinos.

Commerce Casino has 374 gaming tables. The Gardens has 374, as well, and Bicycle has 160. Those three cardrooms are all in the same Southern California region as some of the biggest, most powerful tribal casinos in the state — including Yaamava’ Resort & Casino, owned by the wealthy San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

Assemblymemer James Ramos was behind AB 341. Ramos is a member of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and is the first Native American elected to the California State Assembly.

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Matthew Bain

Matthew Bain joined Catena Media in 2022 and has served as PlayCA's Content Manager since 2023. Before that, he spent six years as a sports reporter and then deputy sports editor for the Des Moines Register, during which time he won nine statewide journalism awards, including the Genevieve Mauck Stoufer Outstanding Young Iowa Journalists Award. As deputy sports editor, Matthew oversaw the Register's recruiting coverage while also innovating the outlet's high school sports coverage. Matthew graduated from San Diego State and grew up in California, but he's somehow a Boston Celtics fan. Long story. Matthew also led coverage of Prop 26 vs. Prop 27 in the California sports betting election battle for Catena Media.

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