Despite the promise of shiny new jobs and praise from some city officials, a fifth cardroom was not in the cards for a local casino operator last week.
Clarke Rosa, who owns Capitol Casino on 16th Street, isn’t ready to eulogize his plan for a 15-table cardroom at the former Hard Rock Café location in Westfield Downtown Plaza—just a mile away from his existing facility and Limelight Casino on Alhambra Boulevard—despite going bust at the hands of a closely divided Sacramento City Council on September 20.
“We’re not sure yet,” a taciturn Rosa told SN&R when asked if the deal was dead following last Tuesday’s 5-3 vote.
It seems that way. Current city code allows only four cardroom licenses, so the council would have to amend an existing ordinance to let a fifth player sit down at the table. Council members like Sandy Sheedy and Rob Fong felt that was one too many.
Councilwoman Angelique Ashby, in whose district the cardroom would reside, went all-in for amending the ordinance.
“It’s about jobs. It’s about allowing someone who has done a great job in the city of Sacramento, like Clarke Rosa has done, to replicate his success in another area. It’s about a unique opportunity downtown in an area that has been struggling,” she said. “We have put cars on K Street, we have subsidized efforts on 700, 800 and at the Dive Bar. They’re not asking us for one red penny.”
Police Chief Rick Braziel also backed up proponents’ claims that another local gambling facility wouldn’t be the crime draw some might expect. The four operating cardrooms in Sacramento average 19 to 34 calls for service a year, compared to a low of 42 and a high of almost 400 “at some of our restaurants and grocery stores in the area,” said Braziel. “The call volume, for us, and crime volume is very, very low. There’s nothing to indicate they’re crime problems or nuisances.”
In fact, Braziel said adding more 24-hour entertainment options to that part of downtown could result in a safer area.
Despite such assurances, a majority of the council expressed conceptual problems with bringing more gambling to the city.
“We can talk about location, but for me it’s not about location. It’s about gambling,” said Fong, who cited a troubling rise in gambling addiction in the local Asian-American community. “I don’t think personally that we need more gambling in the city of Sacramento.” (Raheem F. Hosseini)
Sacramento Department of Utilities no longer has wooden pipes and gravity-based water flow, as it did 100 years ago, but some of its sewer and water pipes are nearly as old.
With the pipes corroding fast, and costs for maintenance, energy and government compliance rising, the city now is considering its future priorities. Should water services, for instance, receive the lion’s share of the Department of Utilities’ budget as it will in 2012? Or should solid waste? Or green recycling? As part of this prioritizing, the city is asking Sacramento residents to weigh in as well by completing an online survey by October 3. To do so, visit: http://yourutilitiesyourvoice.com. (Hugh Biggar)