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California card room operators urge Gov. to close tribal casinos



perators of card rooms across California have called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to order the closure of tribal casinos amid the surge in coronavirus cases.

The California Gaming Association, whose members include the Seven Mile Casino in Chula Vista and Oceans Eleven Casino in Oceanside, wrote to the governor last week saying they believe Newsom has both the authority and duty to close tribal casinos to protect public health.

“In response to your July 1 order, all cardrooms in the targeted counties are now closed. In contrast, all tribal casinos in the targeted counties remain open. This is inconsistent with your directive and public health and safety protocols,” according to the letter, signed by the body’s president Kyle Kirkland.

The gaming association cited a standard section of the state gaming compact with different tribes that states “the tribe shall not conduct Class III gaming in a manner that endangers the public health, safety, or welfare,” the gaming association wrote. “We believe you have the authority to order ALL casino operations, including tribal casinos, to cease operations in the affected counties.” 

Both the governor and officials in San Diego County have said the tribes have sovereign authority to operate the casinos, which reopened in San Diego County in May following extensive changes to operations to limit COVID-19 infection.

Newsom addressed the situation during his July 1 coronavirus daily update, saying that his office is “working very collaboratively” with tribal leaders to make changes to the way they operate to keep guests safe, as reported by ABC10. “We are in deep conversations and we will be making public the fruits of those efforts to at least get a rational of understanding between our partners in sovereign nations and the State of California,” Newsom said.

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