Two Tribes Sue Southern California Cardrooms for Providing House-Banked Card Games

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Two Tribes Sue Southern California Cardrooms for Providing House-Banked Card Games

The complaint filed by the two tribes seeks to stop non-tribal cardrooms from operating house-banked card games

Two tribes are suing several Southern California cardrooms, claiming that they have been violating state laws by providing house-banked card games, including blackjack, as well as percentage card games, local news outlets report.

The federally recognized California-based Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians filed a lawsuit on Friday against twelve private, for-profit corporations operating cardrooms across Southern California and a number of unnamed third-party proposition player firms.

The Chumash and Luiseño tribes explained that their suit did not aim to challenge the right of the cardrooms to operate but to challenge the operation of house-banked and percentage card games. Back in 2000, state voters approved Proposition 1A, under which only federally recognized tribes were allowed to offer the above-mentioned card games on tribal land.

In their lawsuit, the two Indian nations said that they would not have taken legal action, if the state Department of Justice and the Gambling Control Commission had moved to enforce the provisions of Proposition 1A. The Chumash and Luiseño tribes further noted that they had been trying to solve the issue for well over a decade now, but with no success.

The legal complaint, filed in the San Diego County Superior Court late last week, stated that by offering house-banked and percentage card games, the defendant card rooms breached the California Constitution and existing gambling laws.

Legal Remedies

The complaint seeks injunction to compel the defendants to stop offering house-banked and percentage card games and legal relief for the financial losses sustained by the two tribes, which has also resulted in the loss of revenue for the government, employment opportunities for tribal members, and goodwill. Allegations in the lawsuit further included unfair competition and public nuisance, among others.

Hustler Casino, Oceans 11 Casino, Hollywood Park Casino, and Hawaiian Gardens Casino were among the defendant card rooms named in the lawsuit. Defendant players were named John Doe 1 through 25 and Green and Red Companies I through XXV.

California tribes and the state’s cardrooms have been in a turbulent relationship for nearly two decades now. As mentioned earlier, the tribes were given the exclusive right to operate house-banked card games back in 2000. A year later and following mounting pressure from California’s non-tribal cardrooms, state lawmakers allowed them to offer card games as long as players acted as the bank, not the house as it was at tribal casinos.

Shortly after, cardrooms started hiring proposition players to act as the bank, thus circumventing the law. A whole new industry emerged as a result, with third-party proposition player companies penning agreements with the cardrooms to provide players. There were also cardrooms that later on started banking their card games, dismissing the law altogether.

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