Committee OKs card room ownership transfers

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SAN DIEGO — A proposal that would allow the owners of San Diego’s two remaining card rooms to sell or transfer ownership of their establishments was unanimously endorsed Wednesday by the City Council’s Smart Growth and Land Use Committee.

According to a city staff report, the owners of the Lucky Lady Casino and Palomar Card Club are in their 80s and not in good health, and want their businesses to remain in operation after they die. No provision exists currently for ownership changes in the municipal code section on card rooms.

The report says the clubs — located on El Cajon Boulevard in the College Area and North Park — employ a total of around 150 people and contribute about $100,000 annually to city coffers through various fees.

They offer a variety of table games, including blackjack, Texas Hold ‘Em, Baccarat and Pai Gow. More than 100 card rooms operated in the city back in the 1980s, according to the report.

Card game“Being a business owner myself, I’d hate to not be able to pass down the business to the kids if that’s what I chose to do,” said committee member Scott Sherman, who has a background in the insurance business. “I can understand where they’re coming from.”

Creating a legacy for children or grandchildren is one of the reasons why people start businesses, Sherman said.

The committee action calls for the mayor’s and city attorney’s offices to finalize the language of an amendment to the current card room regulations and present it to the full City Council in the near future.

The amendment would not allow new card rooms into San Diego, according to the staff report.

The city’s card room ordinance allows a total of 22 gaming tables to operate citywide. Since Lucky Lady and Palomar have 11 each, the law effectively prevents new establishments.

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