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Bicycle Club needs push

Jun 24, 2003 7:17 AM

The explosion of Indian casinos, which offer slot machines and "house-banked" card games that are off-limits by law to card clubs is creating more competition for those venues.

"We can’t compete," said Haig Kelegian, owner of the famed Bicycle Club in Los Angeles, a major site on the nationally televised World Poker Tour, seen on the Travel Channel. "We need help, because eventually our business is going to go down the drain."

The Associated Press reported that tribal officials dismissed the complaints, noting that the clubs fought ballot measures in 1998 and 2000 that legalized Indian gambling in the state.

Serious card players such as Russell Fox are helping keep the clubs afloat.

"I have no desire to play slot machines or blackjack," said Fox, a consultant from Irvine who plays poker at the Bicycle Club.

There are 104 card clubs in California with a total of 1,394 tables, down from 220 clubs and 1,955 tables in 1997 when the industry was at its peak. Except for the 20 or so largest, most clubs have fewer than 10 tables.

Illinois hikes tax

Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a measure that will raise the top tax rate on riverboat casinos operating in Ilinois, according to a Reuters report.

The legislation raises the tax on casinos’ adjusted gross receipts to 70 percent when over $250 million, up from the current 50 percent. The 50 percent tax rate will now apply to levels over $100 million, instead of the $200 million.

The new rates take effect July 1.

NJ budget should pass

According to a Trenton Times report, chances are good that the New Jersey State Legislature will pass and, therefore, allow Gov. James McGreevey to sign a balanced budget before the June 30 deadline.

The Senate seems to be split 20-20 on the budget plan, according to the report. McGreevey has said that the state is on the brink of a major financial breakdown, which could cause massive layoffs, close the schools and cripple medical and prescription drug programs for senior citizens.

Around the USA

FLA: The first phase of the $100 million Seminole Hard Rock Casino opened last week in Tampa... KY: Bo Bernhard, director of gambling research at UNLV, was a keynote speaker at the 17th National Conference on Problem Gambling held last week in Louisville... NY: The New York Racing Association is looking to pay out more money to winning bettors, but the move would also mean less cash for counties that get a share of OTB profits... NJ: The opening of the long-awaited Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa is slated for July 3 in Atlantic City.