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Three of California’s lucrative American Indian casino tribes filed a federal lawsuit against the state claiming it has breached tribal-state compacts and violated state laws and a constitutional amendment granting tribes exclusive right to operate house-banked card games.

According to the gaming website CDC, the lawsuit, filed Thursday in the Ninth Circuit U.S. District Court, alleges that Governor Jerry Brown and state regulators have been “complicit… and at times even encouraging” unlawful conduct by card rooms in the playing of banked games such as blackjack. Brown leaves office Monday.

Sixty-three California tribes operate casinos in accordance with tribal-state regulatory agreements, or compacts, the first of which were enacted with passage of Proposition 1A in 2000. Prop 1A is an amendment to the state constitution giving tribes exclusive right to operate banking and percentage games. 

“State law, the constitution and our compacts are all very clear about our exclusive right to operate house-banked, casino-style card games,” Yocha Dehe Chairman Anthony Roberts said of last week’s federal litigation. “We did not want to file this suit, but card rooms continue to play and brazenly advertise these games, even though it’s patently illegal for them to do so. 

“We are asking the state to simply do its job and enforce the gaming laws and rules California’s voters and state Legislature have put in place.”

About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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