Playing a new card


Herald Writer

EDMONDS – A local politician has launched an initiative to add Edmonds to the growing list of cities banning minicasinos.

But the campaign may be much ado about nothing, because a high city tax on minicasinos has effectively kept them away, said Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson.

"My belief is that at this point it’s a nonissue," he said.

That hasn’t deterred city councilman Dave Orvis, who, along with several volunteers, recently started collecting signatures at local grocery stores in hopes of getting his initiative on the November ballot.

Though Edmonds has none of the minicasinos, which can house as many as 15 gambling tables, Orvis said he wants to guard against any in the future. A local restaurant and bar, Marty’s, applied nearly two years ago for a state license to open a minicasino, known officially as an enhanced card room.

"I’m concerned about both the impacts on neighborhoods and the impacts on our local businesses," Orvis said.

The owner of Marty’s couldn’t be reached for comment.

Orvis launched the initiative after growing frustrated with what he saw as inaction by the city council. He broached the idea of a ban at a May city council meeting, according to council minutes. It was then referred to several committees, but never returned to the council.

City Councilman Dave Earling said he was surprised Orvis had turned to an initiative. Earling, who chairs the Finance Committee that considered the ban, said he thought Orvis was going to do more research and return with information.

The initiative would bar minicasinos and reaffirm the existing 20 percent tax on card room revenues. Orvis said he would need to collect about 2,300 signatures by the end of August to get the petition on the ballot.

Haakenson said the city’s tax, the highest state law allows, has proven enough to scare off prospective card room owners.

"That’s been an effective deterrent," he said.

He said that while owners of Marty’s applied for a license in 1998, they haven’t pursued it since.

The number of card rooms has increased from 81 to 90 in Washington in the past three years, after the state loosened restrictions.

That increase has been met with efforts by some cities to keep them away. At least five Snohomish County cities – Marysville, Lynnwood, Bothell, Brier and Mukilteo – have banned card rooms.

Orvis, however, said he fears a minicasino could still gain a toehold and that the city council could then be tempted to lower the tax rate. He said minicasinos could harm other restaurants in the city and that studies have found cities with casinos wind up with higher crime and suicide rates.

Haakenson, who didn’t say if he supported a ban, said people should weigh the benefit of tax revenues that a minicasino could bring to the city. In 1999, the top earning casinos had gross receipts ranging from $3 million to $12 million, according to a state Gambling Commission report. Taxes are based on gross receipts.

You can call Herald Writer Warren Cornwall at 425-339-3463 or send e-mail to corn

Talk to us

More in Local News

FILE - A sign hangs at a Taco Bell on May 23, 2014, in Mount Lebanon, Pa. Declaring a mission to liberate "Taco Tuesday" for all, Taco Bell asked U.S. regulators Tuesday, May 16, 2023, to force Wyoming-based Taco John's to abandon its longstanding claim to the trademark. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Hepatitis A confirmed in Taco Bell worker in Everett, Lake Stevens

The health department sent out a public alert for diners at two Taco Bells on May 22 or 23.

VOLLI’s Director of Food & Beverage Kevin Aiello outside of the business on Friday, May 19, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Coming soon to Marysville: indoor pickleball, games, drinks

“We’re very confident this will be not just a hit, but a smash hit,” says co-owner Allan Jones, who is in the fun industry.

Detectives: Unresponsive baby was exposed to fentanyl at Everett hotel

An 11-month-old boy lost consciousness Tuesday afternoon. Later, the infant and a twin sibling both tested positive for fentanyl.

Cassie Franklin (left) and Nick Harper (right)
Report: No wrongdoing in Everett mayor’s romance with deputy mayor

An attorney hired by the city found no misuse of public funds. Texts between the two last year, however, were not saved on their personal phones.

Firearm discovered by TSA officers at Paine Field Thursday morning, May 11, 2023, during routine X-ray screening at the security checkpoint. (Transportation Security Administration)
3 guns caught by TSA at Paine Field this month — all loaded

Simple travel advice: Unpack before you pack to make sure there’s not a gun in your carry-on.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
To beat the rush this Memorial Day weekend, go early or late

AAA projects busy airports, ferries and roads over the holiday weekend this year, though still below pre-pandemic counts.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Troopers: DUI crash leaves 1 in critical condition in Maltby

A drunken driver, 34, was arrested after her pickup rear-ended another truck late Tuesday, injuring a Snohomish man, 28.

Housing Hope CEO Donna Moulton raises her hand in celebration of the groundbreaking of the Housing Hope Madrona Highlands on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$30M affordable housing project to start construction soon in Edmonds

Once built, dozens of families who are either homeless or in poverty will move in and receive social and work services.

A south-facing view of the proposed site for a new mental health facility on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, near 300th Street NW and 80th Avenue NW north of Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
County Council OK’s Stanwood behavioral health center

After an unsuccessful appeal to block it, the Tulalip Tribes are now on the cusp of building the 32-bed center in farmland.

Most Read