Home Antioch Antioch Residents Advocate For A Stronger Card Room Ordinance

Antioch Residents Advocate For A Stronger Card Room Ordinance

by ECT

On Tuesday January 13, the Antioch City Council will consider revisions to the City’s Card Room Ordinance.

As part of the agenda item, thirty residents signed a letter to the City essentially saying the City’s proposed ordinance does not go far enough and is not very strong. They are encouraging Antioch to look at a stronger approval for card rooms within Antioch.

Within the letter, residents are asking for a voice in future decisions of card rooms such as voting on them like other cities do as well as increasing background checks and stronger licensing requirements.

Editor’s note: It appears City Staff in Antioch are not taking this ordinance seriously, therefore it’s up to the City Council to request staff to make a better effort on behalf of the citizens of Antioch.  With thirty residents signing the letter, its the councils duty to re-think this proposal and request something better.  The City Staff should at the very least, make an effort to find another method instead of keeping the status quo.

Here is a letter from Antioch residents to the City Council and Staff:

December 10, 2014

Dear Members of the Council, City Manager Duran & City Attorney Nerland:

We wish to thank you for your consideration of the ways we may strengthen our City’s gambling laws.

Money spent gambling is not spent in local restaurants, on school clothes or on families. As Chief Cantando explained at the City Council meeting, gambling businesses can negatively impact police services and our community, including associated crime, robberies, fights and theft. This is something other communities struggle with. We should learn from those other cities.

Rather than have each Councilmember announce in advance every possible option without knowing what other cities do, we must consider the best practices from other cities in order to give the Council several options. We think the Council and public would be best served by bringing back to the Council several options for strengthening our card room ordinance.

We want to ensure there is effective licensing and regulation of gambling in our community, subject to the will of the voters. We also have to limit and regulate gambling businesses so that gambling does not evolve over time from small card rooms with restaurants and poker games to full scale gambling businesses – all without meaningful public input.

This means requiring voter approval for the expansion of gambling, controlling where and how gambling is permitted and improving our licensing process and police oversight.

  1. The Voters should be asked about new licenses and any expansion of gambling. 

    The people should vote on any new gambling licenses.Right now, we have one operating licensed card room, the 19th Hole. We also have one license issued but not in operation and not transferable. From this point on, the public should be asked to approve any new license at a General Election, except for sales or transfers of the 19th Hole.

    The San Ramon Card Room Ordinance requires a vote of the people to approve any new city gambling license. (B1-54). In San Jose, the first sentence of their card room ordinance says: “There shall be no expansion of card room gambling in the city without first obtaining the majority approval of the voters of the city.” In Milpitas and Richmond, the cities put gambling approvals on the ballot in 2010 and 2014. This is a decision for the entire community.

    In Milpitas, the voters just rejected a new card room license by a vote of 75% to 25%. The casino backers outspent their opposition by 10-1 and still lost in a landslide. In Richmond, the voters rejected a casino by a vote of 60% to 40%. Each time, there was widespread and vocal local opposition from the citizens.

    In Richmond and Milpitas, the council candidates that were anti-gambling were also elected to the council. Plainly, the voters want to be asked about more gambling. They don’t want their councilmembers to approve gambling without the public voting.

    We should let the community vote at a General Election on any new license, except for the card room now in operation. This means the 19th Hole can continue and be sold or transferred to new owners subject to Council approval and without an election. But any new license (other than a transfer of the 19th Hole) must require a public vote. This vote requirement must include any new license related to Kelly’s since there is no transferable license for Kelly’s.

    The voters of Antioch should have the same right as voters in San Jose, San Ramon, Milpitas, Richmond and elsewhere to approve new licenses for any card rooms.

  1. We also need to consider what games are allowed and how many tables.
    1. #Tables. We should ask the voters if we ever want to expand gambling and allow more than 6 tables in a card room.As Chief Cantando stated, less gambling and fewer card rooms is better for the police and police services, and for the community.

      The first section of the San Jose card room ordinance requires a vote of the people to raise the limit on tables in one card room.

    2. Electronic Games. There have been newspaper stories about electronic sweepstakes games where people essentially play slot machines. Our ordinance should make clear that in card rooms and elsewhere we do not allow electronic games, electronic sweepstakes machines or slot machines. Most other cities do this already.
    3. Poker v. Other Games. Historically, our card rooms have been places where people play poker. We should keep the character of those games and not allow card rooms to become Blackjack or Pai Gow parlors.This is what happened in Livermore, where, because the local ordinance was silent, one of the card rooms took out all the poker tables, expanded to 24 hours, and now just has casino games, busing in gamblers from Oakland and San Jose.

      Poker is primarily a social game and a game of skill. White and blue-collar workers, self-employed people and retired people all play recreational poker. The players play against each other and the winnings go to other players.

      Casino games like Blackjack or Pai Gow Poker are different. These “gambling” games attract people who want to gamble, a different element.

      Before we have a situation like Livermore where all the poker tables are removed and we have mini casinos, the ordinance should require the majority of tables to be poker tables.

  1. Our next concern is the location of Gambling.While we appreciate the use permit process, we don’t believe decisions that impact underage gambling and urban blight should be made on a case-by-case basis, especially when present zoning allows gambling in most commercial parts of the City and throughout Rivertown.
    1. We don’t want to allow areas where gambling businesses and adult businessescongregate. This happened in Marina California where there are two card rooms, attached bars and adult businesses all together on the same street.
    2. We need to keep gambling away from young people. We should keep it away from schools, churches and other places where young people congregate. This is an important principle. We don’t want to leave this to individual use permits.The City of American Canyon in their card room ordinance prohibits card rooms within 1,000 feet of schools, hospitals, recovery or treatment centers, parks and playgrounds, libraries and churches.
    3. We don’t want two card rooms side by side “at two addresses” with a common lobby and only a glass wall between them. This happened in Citrus Heights and would evade our limit on gambling tables.
    4. The Council should have to approve any relocation of an existing card room. Most cities require this.

4. Our next concern is the location of Gambling.

Next is the process by which someone gets a gambling license, whether it is a buyer of the 19th Hole or someone else.

  1. If a card room business is transferred, the new owner has to apply for a new license from the City.
  2. We don’t want to license any applicant for a card room owner unless they first get a state gambling license and have a state background investigation.
  3. We should modernize the City’s license process to include applications and disclosures under penalty of perjury, as they do in other cities.
  4. The Ordinance should require licensing any person that receives any money based on the profits of the card room (not just the named legal owners).
  5. The Ordinance should require licensing banking companies that hire people to“bank” the casino games and increase the action in the casino games. Under State Law, they have to be licensed. These businesses deal in large sums of money. We should know who they are and they should be licensed in the City.For example, the City of Hayward has detailed requirements for local licensing.
  1. Finally, the Ordinance should give the Police Department all the tools it requires.

Other ordinances provide that:

  • The Police can inspect anywhere on site and can look at and take copies of financial records;
  • The Police have access to surveillance video and can make copies of it; and
  • The Police can require that all the tables be on the ground floor and be visible from the door.

The Antioch Police should have the same enforcement tools as other Police Departments.

Because of the unique community impacts caused by gambling, it is important that our local laws be improved before we are caught short and in a reactive position. Protecting the public means bringing our ordinance up to date before the unexpected happens. We stand ready to work with you and to support your efforts on this important matter.


Barbara Cowan, Antioch Resident
Barbara Guadagni, Antioch Resident
Bill Cook, Antioch Resident
Frank Landrum, Antioch Resident
Hans Ho, Antioch Resident
John Luis, Antioch Resident
Lori Cook, Antioch Resident
Martha Parsons, Antioch Resident
Nancy Kelly, Antioch Resident
Peggy McKee, Antioch Resident
Richard Azadoorian, Antioch Resident
Richard Guadagni, Antioch Resident
Velma Wilson, Antioch Resident
Angela Lacy, Antioch Resident
Darron Reese, Antioch Resident
Donald P. Freitas, Antioch Resident
Lamar Thorpe, Antioch Resident
Maria Healy, Antioch Resident
Marie Livingston, Antioch Resident
Martin Fernandez, Antioch Resident
Maurice Baskin, Antioch Resident
Synthia Walker, Antioch Resident
Tina Price, Antioch Resident
Shaun Lawson, Antioch Resident
Craig Harmon, Antioch Resident
LaTanya Harmon, Antioch Resident
Patrice Guillory, Antioch Resident
Paul Jackson, Antioch Resident
Salena Lawson, Antioch Resident
Brian Kalinowski, Antioch Resident

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JimSimmons42 Jan 11, 2015 - 11:00 am

Great letter, no excuse for the City Council to move forward unless they do not care about the public. Great job to the 30 people who signed this. Do the right thing council and listen! If not, typical Antioch.

julio Jan 11, 2015 - 11:30 am

Thank you all!

Duke Duarte Jan 11, 2015 - 6:13 pm

I don’t agree with some of the logic and statements used to support this position, nor do I agree with the negativity toward legal activities like certain types of gambling. This is not Brentwood or Atherton. I would think we need all the tax revenue and jobs that legal businesses can provide. Alternatively, we can continue to send this business revenue to Livermore and Pacheco.

julio Jan 12, 2015 - 10:23 am

We definitely need to raise our table fees. They are practically nonexistent….very very low.

karl dietzel Jan 13, 2015 - 11:40 pm

while i 100% agree that the people should vote on that issue, i am absolutely against an ordinance which would give/ allow “special powers” without a judges order to the police.

vp Jan 15, 2015 - 8:15 pm

casinos will have to pay for their own police services APD will not be able to support the whopping increase in crime caused by these establishments. they also promote home invasion robberies because their customers are followed home like the guy in pleasanton. why not reduce the crime probably that already exists in Antioch and get some police support going before considering gambling establishments. I will not vote for them unless I see some real benefit for the City of Antioch. There are better jobs to be had out there instead of working at casinos and in bars. City Council should find a better way to cretae jobs in Antioch. Casinos and too many crappy homes aren’t the way.

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