Lynnwood debates easing gambling rules

LYNNWOOD — The Lynnwood mayor and City Council are at odds over whether the city should loosen its gambling rules.

Council members on Sept. 10 passed an ordinance that would allow some kinds of “amusement game gambling” in city limits. Think kids trying to win prizes, not adults parked in front of slot machines.

Mayor Don Gough vetoed the ordinance Sept. 20. The council is expected to vote Monday night on whether to override that veto.

Lynnwood has banned almost all forms of gambling since the 1970s. Exceptions include allowances mandated by state law, like for pull tabs, and for charity fundraisers, like small bingo games.

The new gambling ordinance was drafted in part in response to a request from the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant location along 196th Street SW.

Gough wants the council members to do more research and community outreach before passing new rules, he said last week. The mayor noted that vetoes are rare for him, and said he was worried about the precedent of dispatching with a 30-year-old law without enough consideration.

“My point is this, you’re already starting to go deal with it, you better talk to the public now, not later,” he said.

However, council members have been talking about the idea during public meetings for more than a year and a half, Council Vice President Kerri Lonergan-Dreke said Friday.

No public opposition has been expressed in that time, she said.

In addition, more than 300 people in Lynnwood signed a petition in support of the ordinance change, she said. The petition was circulated by Chuck E. Cheese.

“The public has had an ample opportunity to weigh in on this,” she said.

The arguments over gambling come during a year when city leaders have spent months brainstorming new sources of revenue for the city budget.

There has been talk of using potential gambling revenue to pay for police and fire services.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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