The Inglewood City Council has unanimously approved a card club ordinance that spells out in 54 pages how the city will govern everything from licensing to hiring at Hollywood Park's proposed gaming operation.
The ordinance, approved Tuesday, also prohibits city employees and elected officials from having ownership or employment ties to what is to be the city's only card club.
All club employees and owners will be subject to police background checks, the ordinance says. The details of the checks are still being worked out, City Atty. Howard Rosten said Wednesday, adding that police and FBI computer checks probably will be part of the process.
"There's lots of intelligence in the law enforcement community about card clubs," said Rosten, who drafted the ordinance and has insisted from the start that it would be the most detailed of any in the state.
Under its terms, the city's only card club must be located in the Cary Grant Pavilion at Hollywood Park, which is what voters by a narrow margin approved in November. Though the card club referendum generated heated debate and a campaign that cost close to $1 million, Tuesday's vote took place with little comment from the council or from residents who opposed the referendum.
Faced with budget deficits and a declining flow of revenue from the state, the city is depending on the card club to stabilize a worsening revenue situation.
According to city projections, once the club is fully operational it could generate as much as $10 million a year in tax revenues for Inglewood. More important for the immediate future, the ordinance contains a provision that gives Hollywood Park the option of paying $3 million to the city when the club is licensed in exchange for a tax break over the following five years.
Hollywood Park's chief financial officer, G. Michael Finnigan, told the council two weeks ago, when the ordinance was introduced, that if the park is financially able, it will pay the $3 million up front.
The club is not expected to open until early 1994 and has not yet obtained a state gaming license, a process that under state law could take up to six months to complete. It is still unclear who will be listed as the club owner. State law does not allow publicly held corporations to hold gaming licenses. At the behest of Hollywood Park, state legislation has been introduced by Assemblyman Curtis Tucker Jr. (D-Inglewood) and state Sen. Teresa Hughes (D-Inglewood) to change the law.
Park officials have said that if that change does not occur in time, they will lease the club to one or more owners who, unlike stockholders, would be easily identified by the city and the state.