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

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

2 injured in Bothell Everett Highway crash

The highway was briefly reduced to one northbound lane while police investigated the three-car crash Saturday afternoon.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
On I-5 in Everett, traffic nightmare is reminder we’re ‘very vulnerable’

After a police shooting shut down the freeway, commutes turned into all-night affairs. It was just a hint of what could be in a widespread disaster.

Anthony Brock performs at Artisans PNW during the first day of the Fisherman’s Village Music Fest on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At downtown Everett musical festival: ‘Be weird and dance with us’

In its first night, Fisherman’s Village brought together people who “might not normally be in the same room together” — with big acts still to come.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Judge reduces bail for driver accused of killing Marysville trooper

After hearing from Raul Benitez Santana’s family, a judge decreased bail to $100,000. A deputy prosecutor said he was “very disappointed.”

Pet detective Jim Branson stops to poke through some fur that Raphael the dog found while searching on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Everett, Washington. Branson determined the fur in question was likely from a rabbit, and not a missing cat.(Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lost a pet? Pet detective James Branson and his dogs may be able to help

James Branson, founder of Three Retrievers Lost Pet Rescue, helps people in the Seattle area find their missing pets for $350.

Whidbey Renaissance Faire volunteers pose in their costumes. (Photo by Bree Eaton)
Faire thee well: Renaissance is coming to Whidbey Island

The volunteer-run fair May 25 and 26 will feature dancers, a juggler, ‘Fakespeare,’ various live music shows and lots of food.

Community Transit leaders, from left, Chief Communications Officer Geoff Patrick, Zero-Emissions Program Manager Jay Heim, PIO Monica Spain, Director of Maintenance Mike Swehla and CEO Ric Ilgenfritz stand in front of Community Transit’s hydrogen-powered bus on Monday, May 13, 2024, at the Community Transit Operations Base in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New hydrogen, electric buses get trial run in Snohomish County

As part of a zero-emission pilot program from Community Transit, the hydrogen bus will be the first in the Puget Sound area.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Video: Man charged at trooper, shouting ‘Who’s the boss?’ before shooting

The deadly shooting shut down northbound I-5 near Everett for hours. Neither the trooper nor the deceased had been identified as of Friday.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Road rage, fatal police shooting along I-5 blocks traffic near Everett

An attack on road workers preceded a report of shots fired Thursday, snarling freeway traffic in the region for hours.

The Port of Everett and Everett Marina on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Is Port of Everett’s proposed expansion a ‘stealth tax?’ Judge says no

A Snohomish resident lost a battle in court this week protesting what he believes is a misleading measure from the Port of Everett.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.