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BELL : Plan to Reopen Casino Still Alive

March 24, 1994

The plan to reopen the Bell casino may be troubled but it is still ticking.

Last month, two investor groups pulled out of a deal to open the beleaguered poker parlor and the city has returned a $500,000 deposit to Worldwide Entertainment Centers of Carlsbad and California Casino of Bell, a Los Angeles company.

James Knapp, the casino building's owner, has submitted a gaming license application to the city along with a $500 processing fee, said Robert Rizzo, chief administrative officer. Knapp has also submitted a license application to state officials, a process that could take as long as six months, he said.

Knapp has leased the casino to other operators for 14 years, Rizzo said, and "now he wants to try it on his own."

Knapp did not return phone calls.

The first deal folded because investors could not front the $1.35 million in good-faith money that the city required, Councilman George Cole said at the time. It is unclear whether the city would require Knapp to pay the same kind of deposit, Rizzo said.

Peter Werrlein Jr., who managed the formerly successful card club until he pleaded guilty in 1984 to mail fraud and owning an illegal gambling business, is still contracted to monitor casino operations, Rizzo said.

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