Milpitas City Officials Look To Bay 101 For Much-Needed Revenue

Milpitas mapIn the hopes of raising more tax dollars for government services, Milpitas is considering granting a large cardroom the right to open up shop in the city. But not all are happy with the proposed law, and some have protested that the presence of a poker room will do harm to surrounding neighborhoods.

City voters will go to the polls on November 4 to decide if Measure E will pass. The proposal would allow one licensed cardroom to operate in Milpitas, which would pay the city a 10.5% tax on gross revenue.

If the legislation goes through, the city would seek a 25-year deal with card club Bay 101, which would move its current 48-table poker room to an area near the Newby Island landfill.

With $220 million in funding needed to complete infrastructure projects, the city is in desperate need of extra cash. If the Bay 101 deal goes through, officials estimate that the municipality would receive approximately $8 million a year in tax revenue from the card club.

Neighboring casinos fund opposition group

Yet not all are in favor of the plan, and some believe that a gambling center inside the city would have negative consequences for residents. One group, called Citizens Against Casinos, Crime and Traffic: No on E, has raised $32,500 from 2 nearby casinos to help fight against the measure.

The pastor of a local Vietnamese church joined in the protest and held a meeting stating his worry that Asian Americans would be particularly affected by the card club. Milpitas has a high percentage of foreign-born residents, 62% of whom are Asian.

City officials were quick to respond to the concerns of crime, and have already presented a detailed security plan. If granted the right to operate, Bay 101 would hire 3 police officers to secure the property and an administrator to oversee public safety. “We don’t have any concern about any increase in crime,” said city manager Thomas Williams.

Bay 101’s owner is also pumping cash into the effort to pass Measure E, and has donated $313,000 to the Yes on E committee.

As with much California legislation dealing with casinos, it’s difficult to determine how much of the opposition – or the support – for any given project is genuine. Pull back the curtain on gambling donations and you’ll often find that neighboring casinos are providing the bulk of the funds in order to protect their own profits.

The City Council is clearly eager to work with Bay 101, but says that even if Measure E is passed, the car club will still need to apply and obtain a permit before being allowed to open its doors. “The city does have the ability to revoke their permit if there are issues in the future.… They are a heavily regulated business,” said Williams.