California's Longstanding State-backed Reliance on Games of Chance

Published December 7, 2019 by Lee R

California's Longstanding State-backed Reliance on Games of Chance

The state of California already has a strong cardroom industry which many people outside the state may not be aware of.

Commonly regarded as a liberal state with the strongest opposition to legalizing gaming in-state, it turns out that there is a longstanding tradition and influence of card games in the otherwise unregulated state of California.

CGA's Role and Study

Trade association California Gaming Association CGA is leading the charge with fully state-licensed gambling vendors and cardrooms to promote conditions for the safest gaming experience possible to all customers.

Cardroom History in California

California's cardrooms have actually been active for over one hundred and fifty years as strictly card game rooms, with seventy-two cardrooms today, varying in size from very small venues with several tables to huge cardrooms packing hundreds of tables.

The Tribal Controversy

However, cardrooms today look like gambling halls to the casual eye, a new twist brought on by the tribal permit of 2000.

At that time, a supposed California Constitutional guarantee granting Native American tribes exclusive rights to offer casino-style gambling spurred the traditional poker-only cardrooms to seek out a piece of the pie.

Cardroom Inclusion

Within a year, the card rooms had successfully lobbied California lawmakers to amend the law so that card rooms could offer games if the players acted as the bank and not the house, in turn giving rise to blackjack and Pai Gow play with rotating player-dealer positions along with gaming machines with the exception of slots.

Cardroom Regulation Today

California's cardrooms thus operate under strictest internal control measures and standards, as imposed on count operations; casino operations; surveillance and security; responsible gaming and financial reporting; and employee background checks.

CGA Economic Contribution Figures

A recent CGA report indicates cardrooms operating in the state directly and indirectly provide over 32,000 indirect and direct jobs paying out $1.64 billion in employee wages and benefits, while annually contributing $500 million in local and state taxes.

The report further indicated that state’s cardrooms positively impact the entire state to the tune of $5.6 billion, including by bringing in some $398.8 million in annual taxes annually plus $109 million in other gaming duties.


For a state without betting or gambling legislation, that seems like a high level of influence of state-backed games of chance. Maybe California does not regulate betting because they already receive sufficient contributions from gamblers as it is. 

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