Lawmakers go bust at Capitol cardroom

08/13/2014 4:29 PM

08/14/2014 6:25 AM

As discussions over gambling regulations in California heat up, the card club industry hosted lawmakers and their staff Wednesday for blackjack in the shadow of the Capitol.

The event was organized by Communities for California Cardrooms, a trade association that formed last year and counts former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown among its consultants. The group been working to raise the political visibility of cardrooms, said executive director Jarhett Blonien, especially as the expansion of Indian gambling and the proposed legalization of Internet poker create an increasingly competitive gambling environment in California.

“How do you create the framework where they can all work under the same umbrella?” Blonien said. “That’s the biggest difficulty.”

Several lawmakers dropped by, including Democratic Assemblymen Steven Bradford of Gardena and Reggie Jones-Sawyer of Los Angeles, but most declined to sit down for a hand.

Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, played a few rounds of Vegas-style blackjack, though he didn’t find much luck at the table. He said he showed up in his capacity as chair of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, to educate himself more about cardrooms and show support for the clubs in his district.

“Believe it or not, I’m not a gambler,” he said. “No, I didn’t win. I’m not good at that stuff.”

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