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Public hearings on gambling start Sept. 4

ARLINGTON Gambling is the topic of several upcoming public hearing staged by the city of Arlington, starting Sept. 4.
The Sept. 4 City Council meeting will include a public hearing on amending the text of the citys municipal code regarding gambling, while the Sept. 6 Planning Commission meeting will include a public hearing on the citys land use code as it relates to gambling. The final scheduled public hearing on gambling will take place at the Sept. 17 City Council meeting, when the City Council will review issues raised in both the Sept. 4 and 6 public hearings. All three public hearings will take place in the City Council chambers, at 110 E. Third St.
Arlington City Administrator Allen Johnson explained that the city has received a request to amend its municipal code regarding gambling, to include house-banked card rooms. The Council amended the municipal code last year to allow non-house-banked card rooms in the highway commercial zone, which is limited to the Smokey Point commercial area directly off of I-5 along 172nd Street NE.
House-banked card rooms differ from non-house-banked card rooms in that, in a house-banked facility the customer is playing against the house, rather than his or her fellow opponents.
Johnson added that the Council is interested in limiting the locations where such establishments could be located, but noted that such limits would not necessarily exclude the location of the Chrome Cafe, the bar and grill located on 172nd Street, south of the Arlington Municipal Airport. The city received the request to amend its municipal code regarding gambling from parties who are interested in adding a house-banked card room to the Chrome Cafe.
Theyd be looking to limit it to areas where commerce has already been established, such as bars and restaurants, Johnson said.
Gary Malcolm represents himself and two other businessmen with experience in house-banked card rooms, who have spoken with the owners of the Chrome Cafe and the city of Arlington about adding a house-banked card room to the Chrome Cafe.
My experiences in this industry have been very positive, Malcolm said. For the most part, communities welcome house-banked card rooms, because theyre required to be regulated and secure. Police departments have loved us. Were hugely beneficial to cities, because our tax revenues are far greater than bars or taverns. Plus, the average card room employees 100-150 people at flexible family wages.
Arlington City Council member Dick Butner emphasized that no decisions have been made yet.
Weve read and researched how, years back, house-banked card rooms used to bring in crime, but in recent years, that seems to have turned around, Butner said. The idea is that these card rooms bring in professional gamblers, who dont drink to get drunk. Its still up in the air, but if its allowed in a contained area, that can hold the problems down.
City Council candidate Virginia Hatch, by contrast, expressed her concerns at the Aug. 20 City Council meeting.
I dont like the idea of depending on gambling to fund city government, Hatch said.

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