Snohomish may allow card game gambling
SNOHOMISH — After months of wrangling over social gambling, the city appears ready to open the door to card games at restaurants and bars.
The City Council determined last week to pursue an ordinance that would allow social gambling in all eateries and bars across the city. A date for the ordinance to be taken to a vote is not set yet.
The council is open to allowing non-house-banked card game tables in places such as restaurants and bars.
A non-house-banked game differs from a casino where the casino risks its own money. In the games proposed, players fill the cash pot.
The council clearly said before that it did not want to open the door to house-banked mini-casinos such as card rooms.
The city’s gambling ban was provoked in 2009 by a proposed card room on First Street.
Four years later, though, that ban bit Snohomish with a public relations snag when the state Gambling Commission wrote up the Snohomish Senior Center for the nickel-and-dime small-stakes card games members play there.
Senior center members were in an uproar, and in response the city opened up social gambling at nonprofits. The ordinance would open the door to card games all over the city.
The city says two businesses already are interested in applying for a card game license if the council allows it. The city already allows pull tabs in bars.
Businesses would have to show that having card games would stimulate their food and drink sales to get a license for gambling in their establishment.
The city can levy a gambling tax on the card games, and the council was interested in a 10 percent tax during its discussion last week.
State law lets Snohomish tax up to 20 percent, but only one-third of the cities that allow gambling have a gambling tax set that high. Everett’s tax rate for non-house-banked games is 5 percent.