Newsom extends cardroom moratorium in rare moment of CA gaming unity

Concept with wood blocks illustrating mediation
Image: Shutterstock

After Prop 26 and Prop 27 last year, it is tough to believe cardrooms and tribal gaming groups in California can agree on anything, but there was near universal support for AB341, a bill to extend the recently expired moratorium on California cardroom expansion that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law this week.

The previous moratorium, which was put in place for 25 years as part of the passage of 1997 Gambling Control Act, technically expired Jan. 1 of this year. The extension retroactively takes effect on Jan. 1 to ensure no new cardrooms open up in the state.

While the moratorium on new cardrooms will continue, the law does allow for the addition of small numbers of tables every four years with the addition of two new tables right now.

It was the state’s only Native American representative, Assemblyman James Ramos, who introduced the bill, however, it received only a single no vote across both the Assembly and the Senate. Ramos issued the following statement about his legislation:

“I am happy to have brought the tribes and cardrooms together in a historic consensus that has resulted in the bipartisan AB 341 becoming law. I deeply appreciate Gov. Newsom’s support for AB 341, which will help ensure the vitality of the gaming industry by allowing for measured cardroom growth without overexpansion over the next 20 years.”

Not only did the legislature support the measure, but this effort also received near-universal support from both California cardrooms and tribes in the state. California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) Chairman James Siwa explained to PlayUSA why this unusual situation was such a victory for everyone involved:

“This was definitely a very unique situation for tribes and cardrooms to agree to come together and work on this. I think for a bill of this magnitude that touches so many different pieces of the gaming industry to go through with that kind of majority shows the work of those groups and that this bill really is a good piece of legislation.”

While this was a moment of unity for stakeholders in California, there are still several contentious issues on the table, most notably the legalization of sports betting. After the bitter fighting of the voter referendum, achieving unity on that topic remains unlikely, but this is a moment that shows early conversations with all stakeholders can produce an outcome amenable to everyone.