California Casinos Sued by Tribes

Several California tribes have made the decision to take legal action against multiple casinos in Southern California over their offering percentage card games and house banked games such as poker. The Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians and the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians say that the casinos are not complying with California’s gambling laws. They say that by offering these specific games, the casinos are violating a number of state gambling laws, including the Penal Code, the California Constitution and the Gambling Control Act.

The tribes say that they have no problem with the casinos operating; however they want to maintain their market dominance which includes exclusivity over percentage card games.  They claim that for over a decade, they have been battling to have the California Control Commission have private casinos such as the Hollywood Park Casino Company and the Hawaiian Garden Casino comply with state gambling laws to no avail. As such, they have been forced to take legal action against multiple casinos.

A 2000 ballot initiative gave the 55 tribal casinos in California exclusive rights to percentage card games. Local casinos however, have found a way around this by offering what they refer to as California games. These variations of Pai Gow Poker or blackjack have players taking a dealer position. The games are considered legal because, while the card rooms take a rake on each bet as is done in a regular poker game, they are not essentially acting as the house. This loophole has infuriated tribes and triggered the lawsuit.

The tribes say that they are tired with the “delaying tactics” of the California Bureau Gambling Control, which has promised to clamp down on card rooms.

The lawsuit against the casinos and card rooms also seeks “legal relief for the financial losses of business and governmental revenue, tribal employment opportunities and goodwill.”


View Your State