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Cardrooms file lawsuit to halt Tribal casinos' multi-pronged gaming initiative

LOS ANGELES, March 7, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Two California card rooms announced today that they have filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court challenging the legality of a November 2022 ballot initiative promoted by nine California Indian Tribes – an initiative which would legalize sports wagering, allow roulette and craps at Indian casinos, and grant one-way permission for tribal casinos to sue their card-room competitors. 

The cardrooms, Hollywood Park Casino and Cal-Pac Rancho Cordova, are asking the court to bar the California Sports Wagering Regulation and Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act from the November ballot because it violates California's constitutional rule that ballot initiatives can involve only a single subject. Hollywood Park operates in Inglewood; Cal-Pac Rancho Cordova operates the Parkwest Casino Cordova in Sacramento County.

Several of California's largest cardrooms are in urban areas with very diverse populations (such as Inglewood, Bell Gardens, City of Commerce) and contribute a large percentage of those cities' annual tax revenue. Overall, California's 85 cardrooms pay nearly $500 million a year in local taxes and employ about 18,000 people. They range in size from one table to 270 tables.

If passed, the gaming tribes will simply use the hidden provisions in the controversial initiative to attempt to put their business competitors, the  cardrooms, out of business. And of course, unlike the cardrooms, the California tribes will pay no taxes into those urban areas, instead keeping that money for themselves.

"What this sports-wagering ballot initiative really does is to surreptitiously destroy competition with California's cardrooms by granting more rights to Tribal casinos, including the right to file a stream of lawsuits against card rooms,'' said Deven Kumar, General Manager of Hollywood Park. "This is not what the initiative process was designed to do, and certainly not what this initiative is advertised to do."

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