San Jose Joins Lobbying Group to Ensure Its Card Rooms Remain Operational

After introducing new California state regulations threatening casino facilities, San Jose City Council has voted 10-1 to protect the city from the new rules. By voting in favor of stopping the state from closing card rooms, San Jose joined other California city municipalities with medium-sized game rooms that may be affected by the new regulations. The City Council voted to unionize with California Cities Gaming Authority, preventing future regulation from affecting its two cardrooms, Casino M8trix and Bay 101.

According to the city’s assistant manager Bena Chang, the decision to vote to stave off the new regulations was inspired by its need for gaming revenue. Bena said that the city needed the money collected from the two card rooms’ tax, stating that the funds contribute hugely to essential city services and the general fund. Mayor Sam Liccardo was the only one who voted in contrary to other mayors.

It was not surprising, considering Sam has been against gambling because he thinks it has negative results for society. In his statement, he said he hadn’t changed his opposition to gambling, as seen with the August vote where he also voted against card club expansion in San Jose. Sam added that he would continue to oppose gambling by voting against it every time.

Details on Joining the Lobbying Group

Joining the lobbying group, California Cities’ Gaming Authority, provides San Jose with an entity representing medium-sized poker rooms. San Jose will be paying an annual fee of $30,000 as a membership fee. The city must also produce one councilman who will attend all the board’s meetings and another if the first member is not available. According to the city’s chief of staff manager, Lee Wilcox, California Cities Gaming Authority is in good relationships with prominent card room stakeholders and lawmakers.

This gives the board generous support if they need to rally an idea regarding law and gambling facilities. Through the Bureau of Gaming Control, the state is planning to introduce regulations that prevent San Jose’s two card rooms from offering several games. If the bureau were to succeed, these card rooms would lose over $25 million yearly revenue, leading to closure. With the city joining the lobbyist, it is protected from such results.

Gardena, Inglewood, and Colma are also part of the authority. Gardena and Inglewood, situated in southern California, were closed following Governor Gavin Newsom’s stay at home directive to stop the coronavirus spread. San Jose card rooms were not affected by Governor Gavin’s order but were by Santa Clara County after placing strict regulations forcing Bay 101 and Casino M8trix to close. The COVID-19 closure led the two card rooms to drop from $18.9 million in revenue collected between 2018 and 2019 to merely $13.5 million in 2020.

The casinos reopened in September, having invested in outside tents and other essentials to allow players to continue to play card games. However, this investment soon enters into dust, following the rise of the coronavirus cases that led to another closure. According to Lindo of casino M8trix, the facility saw a 65 percent revenue loss after spending a lot of money preparing for COVID-19 protocols. With last year’s closure and possible new regulations, Bay 101 and Casino M8trix could be put to their knees, making the city’s move to the lobbyist the best bet.