CUDAHY — The owner of the closed Silver Saddle Casino says the trouble-plagued gaming hall has fresh financial backing and new plans to reopen its doors.
Last weekend, about 1,000 people gathered on the club's parking lot for a "ceremonial ground breaking" complete with a mariachi band and prizes that ranged from televisions to T-shirts.
"After a long ordeal, we wanted to have a kind of a party for the citizens. We want them all to know we are going forward with this project," club owner Charles R. King said in an interview.
King said he hopes to have the club--which opened in February, 1986, and closed just five months later--reopened by September.
City officials claim King owes the city more than $100,000 in accumulated monthly license fees. The city had imposed a minimum $10,000 monthly payment for the exclusive casino license, but City Manager Gerald Caton said King paid only about $42,000 when it was opened and nothing since.
King denied that he owes the city the money because of a bankruptcy court petition granted to King's Tanlo Inc., a corporation that owns and operates the club, last November by federal Judge Geraldine Mund.
The bankruptcy petition was filed last year, only hours before the City Council revoked King's operating license. The judge set aside the revocation but ruled that King had to pay the city 9% of all gross revenue from gambling games and had to deposit $500,000 into a bank account to demonstrate a financial ability to operate the club. Mund also ordered King to pay the city a license fee of $10,000 in cash or certified check.
The $10,000 was paid and the $500,000 deposited, Caton said, but he contends that King continues to owe the city for everyu month that it has held the license.
"He has the city's only casino license tied up and we are not getting any revenue from it. We are trying extremely hard to cooperate with him. We want the city to get its money," Caton said.
Caton said that Casey Vose, special counsel for the city, has been instructed to return to the Bankruptcy Court to "get some relief" on the debts the city says King owes.
But King said he believes the judge's order "is very clear" in that the casino does not have to pay fees while it is closed. King said he might also return to Bankruptcy Court to ask for clarification.
Secured Financial Backing
Meanwhile, King said he has secured financial backing as part of the judge's stipulation.
Tanlo Inc., has formed a joint venture with Naxos Inc., King said. Its president, David DeMathews, a Santa Monica businessman, could not be reached for comment.
King said he was reluctant to say much more about the joint venture or specific plans for the club because he believes it is best to wait until his plans are complete.
"You know, if you promise people something and you don't give them exactly what you say, they will get angry," King said.
He said, though, that he plans "to do whatever it takes to reopen. The target date is September, barring any unforeseen problem."
King said he has submitted conceptual plans to the city to remodel the club, which is in a building that once served as an automobile smog inspection station. City officials said the plans include construction of a two-story building that would have a restaurant and at least two bars.
King also went before the City Council Monday and requested a conditional use permit to serve liquor for the casino, but the council continued the matter until its next regular meeting June 1. (The state issues liquor licenses but applicants must first meet city requirements.)
Despite disagreements between King and the city, Caton said "the city is wishing Mr. King luck."
When King unveiled plans for the card club six years ago, he said it would become the world's largest, capable of bringing the city $1.9 million in tax revenues each year. But when it opened six years after it was first proposed, the Silver Saddle had only four tables.