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California Cardrooms Donate Millions to Fight Tribal Bill

the gardens casino

Some of the state’s biggest cardrooms announced Wednesday their opposition to a tribe-backed initiative that would legalize retail sports betting at California tribal casinos.

Cardrooms want in on legal CA sports betting, but their opposition to the tribal initiative is about more than that. The tribal measure would also give California’s tribes more power to sue the cardrooms for offering certain types of card games, .

That puts “more than 32,000 jobs, $1.6 billion in wages and $5.5 billion in total economic impact at risk,” Taxpayers Against Special Interest Monopolies said in a Wednesday press release.

The tribal initiative is the only one approved for November‘s ballot at this point. There are three other initiatives pushing for both mobile and retail betting that still need more signatures before qualifying for the ballot, including one being pushed by cardrooms.

Main cardrooms against California sports betting initiative

Four cardrooms donated more than $14 millioncombined to the opposition effort:

  • Commerce Casino gave over $5M
  • The Gardens Casino over $5M
  • Park West Casinos over $2M
  • The Bicycle Hotel & Casino over $2M

Multiple other cardroom host cities oppose the initiative, including 74 represented by the California Contract Cities Association.

“The California Contract Cities Association overwhelmingly voted to oppose the qualified tribal gaming initiative as it will not benefit our residents or communities,” said the association’s executive director,  “the proposed initiative also exploits the Private Attorneys General Act, opening the floodgates for frivolous lawsuits that will harm city revenues that fund vital city services such as roads, schools, homelessness services and fire protection.


There are three other initiatives working to gather nearly 1 million signatures by the end of June.

The initiative backed by cardrooms would open up online California sports betting licenses for cardrooms and tribal casinos, as well as sports teams and horse tracks.

The initiative backed by multiple US sports bettingoperators including BetMGM, DraftKingsand FanDuel contributed a combined $100 million up front for the initiative.

Could California sports betting battle confuse voters?

The competing initiatives and what they propose might be confusing for the average voter, especially with some of the campaigns pushing back against others.

It is not yet clear how Californians will vote on sports betting in November. A recent poll shows sports betting is supported 45% to 33% by decided voters. The other 22%, however, could swing that vote either direction.