On May 24, Governor Gavin Newsom officially signed California Assembly Bill 341, a bipartisan legislation backed up by over 40 California tribes and cardrooms that will assist in providing the balanced growth of California’s gaming industry over the next 20 years. Some of those who supported the bill were: California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA), California Cardroom Alliance, Communities for California Cardrooms, California Cities for Self-Reliance JPA, Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations (TASIN) and Sheriff’s Employee Benefits Association.

New legislation:

This new bill restores provisions sponsored by the cardroom industry in the Gambling Control Act of 1997, which barred California from offering new cardroom licenses. The Legislature occasionally extended that moratorium for 25 years, before it died on January 1, 2023, because of time restriction. In addition, the new legislation permits licensed cardrooms to manage less than 20 gambling tables and add a maximum of 10 new tables during the next 20 years. Furthermore, suitable cardrooms are allowed to have a maximum of two tables in the first year after the bill officially goes into effect, and up to two more tables every four years after that, providing continued growth without overages.

In this regard, Assemblyman James C. Ramos (D-San Bernardino), who presented the legislation, said: “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 over-expansion over the next 20 years.”

Approval of the State Assembly and the Senate:

The bill AB341 was officially validated by the California State Assembly, by a vote of 68-1 in March 2023, and by the State Senate, by a unanimous vote of 32-0, in early May. Additionally, the legislation was sponsored by the Cahuilla Band of Indians, Commerce Casino & Hotel, Hawaiian Gardens Casino, Kings Card Club, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, and the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians.

In this regard, Morongo Tribal Chairman Charles Martin, said: “The overwhelming support for AB 341 by state legislators, tribes and cardrooms aligns with the will of California voters who have consistently stood with Indian tribes in support of gaming on federally recognized tribal lands while opposing over-expansion of gaming across the state.” Keith Sharp, President of the California Cardroom Alliance, added: “This new law will provide smaller cardrooms and their communities the opportunity to grow over time and create new jobs and local economic benefits without over-saturating the gaming market.”

Presented by the aforementioned Assemblyman Ramos, AB 341 was also co-sponsored by Assembly members Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), Mike Gipson (D-Compton), Devon Mathis (R-Visalia), and its principal co-authors are State Senators Bill Dodd (D-Napa) and Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Redlands). In addition, its co-authors also included Assembly members Evan Low (D- Cupertino) and Greg Wallis (R-Rancho Mirage).