“Service to others is the rent you pay
for your room here on earth.”
– Muhammad Ali
As of June 2017, there are 77 active cardrooms in operation throughout the state of California. Most are relatively small, family operations with fewer than 10 tables that contribute to their communities by offering living wage jobs to locals and boosting the local economy. There are, however, a number of larger cardrooms that are critical components of their communities by providing the majority of budgeted tax revenue supporting essential services such as police and fire response. For example, the Gardens Casino is a 225-table operation in the City of Hawaiian Gardens provides over 70% of that city’s budget, an $11 million annual contribution. Similarly, the Commerce Casino (270 tables, the world’s largest cardroom) and the Bicycle Casino (185 tables) in Bell Gardens provide 25-35% of their respective city budgets.
Many other California communities also benefit from local cardroom(s) with significant contributions to their host city’s general fund—Gardena (Hustler Casino and Lucky Lady Casino), San Jose (Bay 101 Casino and M8trix Casino), Fresno (Club One Casino), Colma (Lucky Chances Casino), Emeryville (Oaks Card Room) and San Bruno (Artichoke Joe’s Casino). In fact, two of the five largest cities in California benefit from cardroom table tax revenues (San Jose and Fresno) and the largest metropolitan areas (Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco) each benefit from the employment and economic contributions of cardrooms in their areas. Statewide, the cardroom industry generates over $2 billion of economic activity and employ over 23,000 people in productive, living wage jobs.
California cardrooms also offer a variety of non-gaming entertainment and support of local non-profits through direct contribution and on-property fund-raising. Of course, as participants in the local economy, cardrooms provide other secondary benefits to the community in the form of property and payroll taxes and are often large customers of local vendors, such as food and beverage distributors.
The graphs below show the extent of cardroom contribution to city budgets in several Southern California cities. The implication is that any changes which affect cardroom operations and revenue can have a significant impact on the operating budget of the host jurisdiction.
About the author
Kyle Kirkland is the current president of the California Gaming Association, the 501(c)(6) non-profit trade association that represents California cardrooms. Mr. Kirkland is President and General Manager of Club One Casino, a 51-table cardroom in Fresno and holds the same positions for two smaller cardrooms. Mr. Kirkland’s background includes work in the consulting, finance, music and gaming industries, and he has served on the boards of several public companies. Mr. Kirkland holds an A.B. degree from Harvard College magna cum laude in Economics and an MBA degree from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. He can be contacted at email@example.com.