Milpitas Voters Soundly Reject Cardroom, Gambling

Milpitas voters on Tuesday soundly rejected a ballot measure that would have allowed San Jose's  card room to move to the small city to the north.

By Wednesday morning,  74 percent of the voters said no to Measure E, a proposed law to permit a licensed card room in Milpitas, which many had thought would have been friendlier to gamblers than San Jose. Measure E would have allowed a single card room in Milpitas to be taxed 10.5 percent on gaming revenues.

The measure would have had voters endorse a 25-year deal between the city of Milpitas and the Bay 101 card club, owned by Bumb & Associates, which would have moved from San Jose to a 15-acre spot in Milpitas near the Newby Island landfill off of McCarthy Boulevard.

Some city officials, notably City Manager Thomas Williams, recommended Measure E, saying that Milpitas was still recovering from the Great Recession, has had to lay off 54 city employees since 2009 and had no other source of revenue to raise $220 million to fund backlogged road, water, sewer and other public improvements.

With tax money from the card room, the city had hoped to add two police officers and an administrator for on-site law enforcement once the room opened and hire several new city firefighters, according to Williams.

But opponents, including volunteer groups of residents, retirees and clergymen, said the card room, which would feature poker-type games allowed in California, would promote gambling addiction among citizens and tarnish the city as a center for gaming and crime.

Current state law prohibits a cardroom now in Santa Clara County from moving to another city in the county without approve from both cities. That gives San Jose veto power over Bay 101's departure from the city, the Mercury News reported, whose card room taxes, fees and regulations are among the heaviest in the state.

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