CNIGA Statement on the Failure of SB 637

Press Release
For Immediate Release

Contact: James May
(916) 754 -7540

CNIGA Statement on the Failure of SB 637

September 2, 2022

The failure of state Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh’s SB 637 in the California Senate Governmental Organization (G.O.) Committee opens the door to the expansion of commercial cardroom gaming in communities all across our state. SB 637 would have simply extended the current moratorium relating to cardroom licenses and table expansion for a period of one year in order to allow all stakeholders and the legislature the time necessary to properly examine the future public policy implications of the moratorium.

During testimony, the California Nations Indian Gaming Association and member tribes explicitly committed to working on compromise language with stakeholders regarding both an extended moratorium and table growth during the one-year extension. Despite the unprecedented support of 47 tribal governments, as well as most of California’s commercial cardrooms and the California Cardroom Alliance, the bill failed passage. As a result, the current moratorium, which has been in place since 1998, (before California tribes had gaming compacts with the state of California) will expire on January 1, 2023 without any discussion about the policy implications of that expiration on California and its gaming industry.
By not passing this measure, the Legislature failed to take into account the potential for the explosive growth of the commercial gaming industry in communities across our state. Further, while there was a commitment to pursue a legislative fix in the next session, the moratorium will be lifted on January 1.

“It was dispiriting to see that only six of the committee’s 15 members were willing to record an actual vote, despite having 12 members present and able to vote,” said James Siva, chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association. “While we greatly appreciate the three Republican votes in support, the unwillingness of the committee to have a substantive debate about the potential impacts of the expiration was troublesome.”

The day prior, SB 637 passed the Assembly G.O. Committee where 20 of its 22 members registered public votes, all in the affirmative, recognizing the need to have that one-year time for legitimate and substantive debate.

“It was surprising to see SB 637 rejected by the Senate G.O. Committee,” said Mike Lopez, vice chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association. “On behalf of California’s tribal governments, I would like to thank, Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh for authoring SB 637. Sen. Ochoa Bogh recognized the significance of the moratorium and agreed that a one-year extension to properly examine the impacts this expansion will have on local communities was good public policy.”

“I was shocked and disheartened to see Sen. Ochoa Bogh’s thoughtful effort fail passage, absent any substantive debate,” said Chairman Siva.

During the hearing, state Sen. Scott Wilk, one of only three members who voted for SB 637, likened the potential results in California from this bill’s failure to the dystopian portrayal of the world after “Biff Tannen got the sports almanac” in the “Back to the Future” movies.

“We worry that he may not be far off in his assessment,” said Chairman Siva.

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About CNIGA:
The California Nations Indian Gaming Association is a non-profit association comprised of 42 federally recognized tribal governments dedicated to the protection of tribal sovereignty and the inherent right of tribes to have gaming on Indian lands.

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