April 6, 2023 – At Monday’s City Council meeting, the 500 Club Casino located in Clovis requested that they be allowed to increase the amount of gaming tables in their casino from 20 to 51.
This request comes on the outset of a moratorium placed on gaming institutions set in place in 1996 that was recently not passed through this year.
Each year, state legislature would have to reinstate the moratorium in order to limit gaming institutions in the amounts and sizes of their properties.
With the lapse of this moratorium, the 500 Club realized they had a slim chance to increase the number of tables currently operating at their casino. However, in order to do so, they will need a special election that will require voter approval to allow this increase.
At Monday’s City Council meeting, the 500 Club asked for consideration of that special election.
The Clovis City Council made it clear that the 500 Club themselves would pay the fees included when requesting an election such as the county clerk fee, and would only use the city as a “vehicle” in helping them get on the ballot for November 2023.
However, with AB431, the fear for the 500 Club is that state legislature can go back and rescind the ballot even if passed in November 2023.
There is the off chance that even with full voter approval that the 500 Club will not get to increase the number of gaming tables if they want.
This is something that councilman Drew Bessinger calls “unconstitutional”.
“This is like the second or third thing that’s come up [tonight] that’s retroactive. I’m thinking, it’s just not constitutional.”
The 500 Club claims that they would like to increase the amount of their tables to 51 in order to compete with Fresno casinos.
To this, Mayor Pro-Tem Vong Mouanoutoua in full support asked, “Why stop there?”
“I think you’re asking for 51 so you can match Fresno. My thought is, ‘Why stop there? Why not be the best in the Central Valley?’”
The City states that they will need all information gathered by August in order to place the item on the November election and maintains that they will request that the 500 Club pay for all fees required.
With the unknown variability of AB431, the City Council still gave direction for the City to continue on in the proceedings of placing it on the ballot.
Mayor Lynne Ashbeck on the topic: “If they want to proceed with it, it’s their call. This falls on you as the applicant to let staff know that you’re interested…That will include public safety and doing what’s possible in [seeing to] the added burden of adding 31 more tables and law enforcement and all those other issues that need to be addressed. If the 500 Club wants to proceed and is willing to pay for it then I’m thinking we all see that it’s okay.”