Card Rooms Ask Judge To Invalidate Tribal Ballot Initiative

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Two California card rooms filed a legal action today challenging the legality of an upcoming November general election ballot initiative promoted by nine California Indian Tribes, an initiative the clubs state 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 a judge to bar the California Sports Wagering Regulation and Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act from the ballot, alleging it violates the state's rule that initiatives can involve only a single subject Cal-Pac Rancho Cordova operates the Parkwest Casino Cordova in Sacramento County. If the initiative is passed, the gaming tribes will ``simply use the hidden provisions in the controversial initiative to attempt to put their business competitors, the card clubs, out of business,'' the petition states. Unlike the clubs, California tribes will pay no taxes into those urban areas, the petition states.

  ``What this sports-wagering ballot initiative really does is to surreptitiously destroy competition with California's card rooms 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.'' Representatives for the Indian tribes could not be immediately reached. Several of California's largest operating card rooms are in urban areas with very diverse populations, including Inglewood, Bell Gardens and Commerce, and many of the clubs contribute to a large percentage of those cities' annual tax revenue, the petition states.

  California's 85 cardrooms pay a total of nearly $500 million a year in local taxes, employ about 18,000 people and range in size from one table to 270 tables, according to the petition. The card room owners asked the state Supreme Court to stop the initiative on an emergency basis, but the high court decided not to hear the case.

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