Jake Banks | 21 Nov 2018

Indian Tribes Sue Californian Card RoomsTwo Native American tribes, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, have filed lawsuits against several card room operators in California.

The lawsuit is against card rooms that are offering house-banked card games, which is against the states Proposition 1A of 2000, also known as the Gambling on Tribal Lands Amendment.

California Proposition 1A (2000)

The Gambling on Tribal Lands Amendment, which was approved in March 2000, allows recognized Indian tribes to offer slot machines, lotteries and banking and percentage card games on tribal land.

At present, California gaming law prohibits non-tribal operators from having a stake in the card games they offer. Therefore, only tribal card rooms may offer players entertainment options such as Blackjack.

Card room operators discovered a loophole, and some offer banked card games by hiring proposition players to act as banks. In this way, they can act without breaking the law. A new sector emerged in the card gaming market where companies were created to supply the states card rooms with proposition players. These players act as the bank and the card rooms, then simply take a percentage of the bets, as they would in Poker.

The complaint, which has been brought forward by the tribes, is that several card rooms are in fact offering Blackjack. This goes against state law, Proposition 1A (2000) and erodes tribal income by taking market share that would otherwise belong to them.

The two tribes have stated in agreement with each other, that had the state Department of Justice or the Gambling Control Commission enforced the laws and regulations attached to the provision they would not have taken legal action. However, the issue is one they have been trying to resolve for at least a decade to no avail

Lawsuit Details

The tribes seek that the card houses be ordered by the court to stop offering banked and percentage card games, and cover the legal fees and lost revenue of the tribal operators. In addition, they are seeking damages for unfair competition and public nuisance.

It is not only the card room operators who are under fire from the tribes, but the state as well. The two unified parties have indicated that they are considering a suit against the state for failing to enforce the laws.

A tribal spokesperson has stated that they are not aiming to interfere with the card rooms business but have them operate within the boundaries of the law.