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Anaheim Card Club Plans to Be Presented


ANAHEIM — Renewing efforts to bring a gambling casino here, operators of a Los Angeles-area card club will present their plans to city officials today

City Manager James D. Ruth confirmed Tuesday that card club investors notified him they were submitting outlines for a gambling and entertainment center, but said he didn't know the details of the proposal.

Representatives of the California Commerce Club approached members of the council in April about building a card club. However, when similar proposals in Stanton and Cypress were soundly rejected by voters last June, the future of an Anaheim venture seemed in doubt.

Recently, however, rumors have been circulating at City Hall that the card club issue has been revived by the Commerce Club group, which intends to approach council members again to discuss its plans.

"I've heard those rumors, too," said Councilman Irv Pickler. "I'm not opposed to listening and hearing what they have to say. My mind is 100% open."

Although Pickler said he has not decided on the matter, he said a card club might bring needed revenue to the city.

"We have to look at all aspects, the city is in dire straits right now."

Marty Wilson, a spokesman for an Anaheim-based company called Southland Entertainment Properties Inc., which has worked with the Commerce Club on the idea of developing an Anaheim casino, confirmed Tuesday that the company is preparing to move ahead with the proposal. Further details of the plan were not available.

Mayor Tom Daly said he, too, has heard that a proposal was being forwarded to the city.

"I've not seen a complete presentation on a proposed card club and will withhold a decision on it until I do," he said.

Council members said Tuesday they have not been formally approached by the card club group in recent weeks.

Even as word leaked out that new efforts being planned by the Commerce Club group, city residents started to organize to persuade the council to dismiss any such proposal.

"It's inviting serious problems into the city when you vote gambling in," said Robyn Nordell, an Anaheim resident who spoke during Tuesday's council meeting. "We have problems in Anaheim. We don't need to invite any more. . . . This is wrong. This is bad."

Rev. Lou Sheldon also denounced thoughts of building a card club in Anaheim, particularly because of the crime that may be associated with it.

"Be aware of the serious menace that any kind of gambling brings," he said.

Similar sentiments were expressed last June when voters in Stanton and Cypress overwhelmingly defeated card club ballot measures. According to sources, card club investors apparently have been researching to find a way that a gambling club can be approved by just the council and without a vote of the community.

Details of the card club venture were not available, but eight months ago it was envisioned as a gambling club that would be joined with an entertainment center to make it more appealing to families.

The facility might include a nightclub, restaurants, a hotel and other features. Investors had estimated that the club would bring about $10 million annually into city coffers.

Times staff writers Chris Woodyard and Eric Lichtblau contributed to this report.

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