The closing of Highway 9 Casino seems a perfect time for the Lake Stevens City Council to re-examine the law regarding social card games within the city limits.
At the Sept. 28 city council meeting, city staff presented Ordinance 812 to the council, which would prohibit the conduct or operation of social card games as a commercial stimulant.
When Frontier Village was annexed into the city in 2007, Highway 9 Casino was part of the annexation and the city implemented a gambling tax at that time. However, it was not as high as other cities.
“The city council was trying to figure out a way to not put the casino out of business because so many employees were residents of the city,” City Administrator Jan Berg said. “When Highway 9 closed, we thought it might be a good time to revisit the issue because we wouldn’t be putting anyone out of business.”
The council had extensive conversation regarding the new ordinance during council meeting.
“We should look at our (tax) rate,” Councilmember Heather Coleman said. “I don’t know if I want to limit ourselves in the future. We need to put our tax rate back where it should be.”
Councilmember Quigley wants to ensure that Lake Stevens stays a family-friendly city.
“I would advocate the passage of the ordinance,” she said. “I feel like we have a good window where we are not impacting people with families and their jobs. I just don’t think gambling belongs here.”
Councilmember Tom Hartwell agreed with Quigley’s comments.
“I think we have an opportunity to keep it out of the community,” Hartwell said.
Mayor Vern Little expressed his concern over closing the door on social card games completely, especially because of the growth going on in the city.
“As a larger city, there are going to be other opportunities,” Little said. “I’m not necessarily in favor of alienating them, but we don’t have anyone knocking down our door.”
The ordinance did pass, making it illegal to hold social card games within the city limits.
“My impression as a member of the public, I haven’t heard any support of social card clubs. I think this is a good ordinance,” Councilman Mark Somers said.