Cardroom’s new buyers to be approved Thursday |

Cardroom’s new buyers to be approved Thursday

The sale of Grass Valley’s only gambling parlor hinges on an OK of the buyer by California Gambling Control Commission, a ruling expected to happen during the commission’s Thursday meeting.

The potential buyers of the Gold Rush Casino and Gaming Parlor is the Cal-Pac Group, which now owns one cardroom, The 101 Casino in Petaluma.

Company representative and vice president, Mike Owen, refused to talk about Cal-Pac’s interest in Grass Valley’s parlor, future plans if the sale is OK’d, nor would he reveal more details about the company itself.

“Our policy is to not talk to the media,” Owen said.

The Gold Rush has been the center of an investigation by the commission after accusations that its owner, Sue Barrows, not only failed to file required licensing paperwork on time, but reportedly broke several sections of the Gambling Control Act, the legislating document for the highly-regulated gaming industry.

The cardroom now operates under its second temporary license, which expires April 30. The parlor could face immediate closure following an evidentiary hearing yet to be scheduled.

Cardrooms in California have become a more lucrative business since the implementation of a moratorium on the opening of any new parlors. The moratorium expires in 2010.

Commission Chief Council Cy Rickards said the commission prefers not to force a cardroom to close, if possible. During a Jan. 26 meeting, the commission agreed to expedite the sale process, which includes approval of an investigation into the potential buyer’s financial stability and ability to complete the sale. The commission also refused a request by Barrows’ Sacramento-based attorney, Robert Tabor, to allow Cal-Pac to manage the cardroom until the sale is finalized.

The Cal-Pac Group managed its Petaluma cardroom for two years while the sale of that business was finalized, according to a July 13, 2005 article in the Argus-Courier, the local newspaper. The story also states Cal-Pac is owned by the Galaxy Theaters cinema chain and was planning a major expansion of the cardroom as soon as the sale finalized.

Given Cal-Pac’s experience with cardrooms, it is expected that an approval will be granted.

“I can’t see why it should take more than four to six weeks,” Tabor said soon after the Jan. 26 hearing. “Now, having said that, I’ve also seen the division take two years.”

An Oct. 4, 2005 article in the San Jose Mercury News revealed that Cal-Pac was legally challenging a determination that eliminated it from bidding for Garden City Casino, San Jose’s oldest cardroom, which had filed for bankruptcy in 1998 after $7 million in debt.

“According to court filings, Cal-Pac’s Ralph Cohen and Frank Rimkus filed an offer but were judged not to be qualified by trustee Frederick Wyle,” the article stated.

The Gambling Control Commission meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the commission’s headquarters at 2399 Gateway Oaks Drive, Suite 100, in Sacramento.

The approval of the sale is one of the first items on the agenda.

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