Major Rule Changes Proposed for California Cardrooms

Blackjack enthusiasts in California may soon need to recalibrate their strategies. The state’s Bureau of Gambling Control (BGC) has unveiled a series of potential changes, suggesting a major shift in the landscape of cardroom games.

Why the Changes?

The core of these proposed changes stems from a deep-rooted dispute concerning house-banked games. California Indian tribes possess exclusive rights to such games, leading to the argument that other gambling entities shouldn’t have the same privilege. This exclusivity primarily targets games with a “bank” or “percentage,” particularly highlighting the game of “21”.

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A Glimpse into the New Rules

In a significant departure, traditional blackjack might become a relic in California cardrooms. This includes player-banked versions. But it’s not the end of the road for fans of the game. The BGC suggests a modified variant, where players aim for a target point reminiscent of 21. However, unlike classic blackjack, overshooting this target is not allowed. Furthermore, this new game can’t be termed “blackjack” or feature the number 21 in its title.

Another notable change mandates player-banked games to rotate the dealer’s role at least once every 20 minutes. This alteration seeks to appease tribal community concerns about bank rotation, especially between third-party proposition players and regular cardroom participants.

Legal Tangles and The Road Ahead

The proposed changes have opened the door to a spectrum of discussions and potential legal challenges. The California Assembly Judiciary Committee, back in July, passed bill SB 549, enabling tribes to legally challenge cardrooms. This proposed law provides tribes a narrow window, starting January 1, 2024, to assert that cardroom games breach the state constitution. Meanwhile, cardrooms maintain that their games have been sanctioned and shouldn’t be open to lawsuits.

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While the BGC is welcoming public feedback on these changes until October 26, the upcoming months are set to be pivotal for the future of cardroom games in California.

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