The City Council of Sacramento recently approved what’s known as a commercial-use permit for a project that would see a casino occupy one of the most historic buildings in the downtown portion of the city—Elks Tower. Though an appeal was filed in order to stop the permit from being approved, the city council struck down and threw out the motion.
It is no secret that, as far as California cities are concerned, Sacramento tends to be overshadowed by more well-known and glamorous cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. As such, it should come as no surprise that downtown Sacramento does not exactly draw in as many tourists as local leaders would like to see on an annual basis. As such, the move to establish a casino in one of the most iconic buildings the city has to offer seems like one that can only improve the tourism industry and, thus, increase the revenue the city sees.
Back in February, Sacramento’s Planning and Design Commission approved the permit that would allow the 14 story Elks Tower to host a casino as well as a few other amenities, which included a bar, restaurant, and much more.
As these things typically go, however, owners of casinos and card rooms in the area were quick to file an appeal. The appeal wasn’t aimed at the use of Elks Tower, but rather, the appealing entities wanted to restrict Steve Ayers from acquiring and using a casino license that had formerly belonged to Casino Royale, in North Sacramento. The appeal was thrown out because the conditional-use permit, really, has nothing to do with the card room license.
Casino Royale has been shut down since 2014, when it was accused and eventually charged with refusing to pay out winnings to players.
According to state and local laws, there are up to 4 total cardrooms legally able to operate within the confines of the city of Sacramento. As it stands, there are 3 in operation right now. Casino Royale was the 4th, but since it has not been in operation for well over 2 years, a casino should, in theory, be able to operate out of the Elks Tower. With all of this said, the official issuance of the conditional-use permit, and denial of the appeal that opposed it, is just one step on the way to opening a casino. Before a gambling establishment can open its doors, it needs to officially secure a cardroom license. In essence, this ruling says that a card room can exist at Elks Tower if and when those behind the card room’s establishment possess a license.
Now, there begins a battle for the acquisition of a card room license. Being that, technically, the 4th and final permit still belongs to Casino Royale, a new card room/casino cannot open until that has changed. If a license cannot be secured within 3 years, the conditional-use permit will expire and the process to add a casino to Sacramento will have to be restarted.