Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Willie Brown joins cardrooms to oppose fee regulation

Patrons play Texas Hold-Em at The Limelight Card Room in Sacramento on Dec. 13, 2006.
Patrons play Texas Hold-Em at The Limelight Card Room in Sacramento on Dec. 13, 2006. The Sacramento Bee file

The state Bureau of Gambling Control has raised the stakes in the enduring battle between California’s gaming factions with a proposed regulation on collection fees at cardrooms.

Under current rules, establishments have wide discretion to waive pay-to-play fees for each hand, but the bureau is weighing options to standardize that process by requiring card clubs to set rules before each game. The industry considers it an attempt by tribal casinos to circumvent the legislative process, where several bills mandating collection fees have failed in recent years, and create a competitive advantage.

“They’re trying to get the cardrooms to raise their fees on the customers so the customers won’t play our games anymore and they’ll go to the tribal casinos instead,” said Jarhett Blonien, executive of Communities for California Cardrooms.

The group – which also frames the collection fees as an economic blow to card clubs and California – will be joined by former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown and Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Carson, to oppose the regulation at a public workshop hosted by the gambling bureau, 10 a.m. at the Ben Ali Shrine Center.

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LICENSE LEARNING: More than 200,000 undocumented immigrants have applied for the new AB 60 driver’s license since it was introduced on Jan. 2, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles has issued approximately 25,300 licenses in that time. The state continues to do outreach to immigrant communities about the program, including a workshop hosted by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León in his home district, 2 p.m. Saturday at the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex Auditorium in Los Angeles.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, who turns 70 tomorrow, and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, who turns 64 tomorrow.

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.