Clovis Expands Gambling

January 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The only poker club in Clovis has been there since the 50's and its owner wanted to get rid of the $200 betting limit.City leaders agreed, saying they hope the mom and pop card room can stay competitive.

The 500 Club is a small venue in old town Clovis, with six card tables.

The most popular game is Texas Hold'em, where the betting limit is $200.

But owner Louie Sarantos says that limit has to go in order to be competitive with bigger casinos like Chukchansi.

"It's difficult to compete with the bigger casinos, being as small as I am. But being able to play the same games will help me tremendously," said Louie.

No one spoke against the gambling change at Monday night's council meeting and Clovis Police recommended the change, saying its research showed no-limit is becoming the standard throughout California and has had little impact on crime.

"We've had two crimes associated with the card room in the last three years. One was a robbery where they were a victim. The other was a dispute between two players. It's not our belief this would negatively affect crime in the downtown area," said Bob Keyes, Clovis Interim Police Chief.

The city of Fresno took up a similar issue last year and decided to allow no-limit poker at Club One downtown.

Since then, the club reports an increase in players and revenue.

In the end, the council voted four to one to allow no-limit poker.

The only councilmember against it was Mayor Bob Whalen, who said he didn't want Clovis to become a hub for professional gambling.

Councilmember Jose Flores said this was about being competitive, not legislating morality.

The city can stand to get more money if revenue increases, but city staff expects any additional income to be minimal.

The no-limit gaming is for certain poker games only, not blackjack, which is set to start next month.


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