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November 8, 2011 at 11:15 PM

Tukwila votes to keep its casinos

By an overwhelming margin in an advisory measure, Tukwila residents voted Tuesday to keep casinos in their city.

Tukwila Counciail member Dennis Robertson said that if no other council member comes forward, he will introduce a measure at Monday’s meeting to repeal Ordinance 2323.

That ordinance was passed earlier this year and would have put every casino in Tukwila out of business within five years.

Three cardrooms (Riverside, Great American Casino, Golden Nugget) are operating in Tiukwila, and another (Macau Casno) is on the way. But to comply with state law, the voters were given this choice: Either shut down all the casinos — by January 2016, to give the cardrooms time to recoup their investments — or allow anyone with a restaurant to apply for a cardroom license.

Tukwila wouldn’t have had this vote if, back in December, it hadn’t received an application to establish the Macau Casino in what had been a Denny’s on Southcenter Boulevard.

Before that, the city had an ordinance that grandfathered in existing casinos and prohibited new ones.

But, according to the state’s Gambling Commission, “cities cannot pick or choose the locations where gambling can occur nor are grandfather clauses typically legal.”

Robertson said he was surprised at the overwhelming margin in first-day returns — 61 percent to 39 percent — to keep the casinos.

“People are very concerned about jobs and money. I think that had a big impact,” he said.

In 2010, at a time of budget cutbacks, the city collected $2.1 million in gambling taxes from casinos. The casinos said they employed some 425 people.

Jenny McCoy, head Citizens for a Casino-Free Tukwila, said she was “disappointed” at the vote, but also was glad the vote was so overwhelming.

“This reflects the will of the people,” she said.

Comments | More in General news, Government | Topics: Electon 2011

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