When Andy Peoples wants to play Pai Gow poker, he heads to Jackson because Lodi's Wine Country Cardroom is not allowed by city ordinance to offer that game.
At Wednesday's City Council meeting, Wine Country's owners will ask the city to consider changing Lodi's cardroom ordinance to allow all card games permissible under state law.
Peoples, who plays Texas Hold 'em at Wine Country about four days a week, would much rather play a variety of card games there.
"It would just give you more options to play here," Peoples said. "It is a way better atmosphere."
Besides adding more games, the owners would also like to add three more tables - for a total of 11 - and increase the hours from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., to 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. every day of the week. Through these changes, the cardroom is hoping to attract people from around the region to Lodi.
"We want to keep competition out, and keep the tax revenue in Lodi," said Randy Yaple, general manager of operations.
But on Monday afternoon, Ken Owen, a vocal opponent of the cardroom in the past, said he did not know an expansion was planned.
At a glanceThe issue: At the Wednesday City Council meeting, the Wine Country Cardroom and Restaurant will ask the city to change its ordinance, so the cardroom could:
- Offer any state-approved games. Right now, the city's cardroom
ordinance only allows certain games.
- Add three more card tables for a total of 11.
- Stay open from 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. instead of the current hours of
10 a.m. to 2 a.m. This would allow it to open in the morning at the
same time as the attached restaurant.
What can the council do?: This is the first step in the process. It will decide whether to have staff draft a revised ordinance making these changes.
When and where: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Carnegie Forum.
Even though he could not provide specific comments because he has not reviewed the changes, Owen said his opposition remains the same. He said the closer people live to a cardroom, the more likely they are to get addicted.
"Gambling is still known as a vice, and it destroys people's lives," Owen said.
Vice president Chris Ray said he knows there will be objections to anything the cardroom does from some people.
"If people have a moral problem, they don't have to come here," Ray said.
Some residents contended the cardroom would increase crime in the area. But the police have not had any complaints or enforcement issues with the cardroom since it opened at 1800 S. Cherokee in May 2007, according to a city staff report for the meeting on Wednesday.
"Cardrooms are not the same seedy place they were 30 or 40 years ago," Ray said. The city receives 9 percent of the cardroom's revenue, which totals about $100,000 for the city's fiscal year ending in June. Ray estimates the cardroom earned about $1 million in revenues during 2008.
The amount the city will receive this fiscal year is up so far from 2007-2008. As of Friday, the city has received $49,384, city spokesman Jeff Hood said. At this time last year, the city had received $46,115.
Wednesday will be the first step to get the changes enacted. The council will tell staff whether to proceed with drafting a revised ordinance. The council would still have to approve it at a later date.
At Wine Country, people can play Texas Hold 'em, lowball, draw poker, pinochle, pangini, rummy and bridge. Many of those games are not popular today, so by expanding the selection, owners hope to attract more customers. Ray said Wine Country is the only cardroom in the state that cannot pick from any of the state approved games, including Omaha and variations of blackjack.
When the cardroom moved from a smaller location in early 2007, it asked the council to change the ordinance, so it could offer all of the state-approved games, mainly because Texas Hold 'em had increased in popularity. The council voted to only add Texas Hold 'em to the list.
This can be problematic because new games pop up all the time, Ray said.
"If 'Go Fish' became the big game, we'd have to go before City Council," he said.
Wine Country owners are also asking for expanded hours. Right now, when the cardroom closes at 2 a.m., people will head to 24-hour cardrooms or casinos in surrounding areas, like Jackson or Manteca, to finish games, Yaple said. Or worse, they start at another out-of-town place entirely and don't come to Wine Country at all, he said.
"We lose those people who get off work at 10 p.m. and come at 11 p.m. and only get three hours of play," Yaple said.
The cardroom would also like to add three tables. The state imposes maximums on how many cardrooms are in the state and how many tables are allowed at each location. With the passage of state legislation, cardrooms with eight tables can increase to 11 starting on Jan. 1. But the cardroom needs the city's ordinance changed before it can add the extra tables.
Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at firstname.lastname@example.org.