Mini-casinos consider moving to Bremerton

"City leaders may be gambling with Bremerton's future. But not in the way you think.Two separate developers are condsidering locating card rooms, also known as mini-casinos, in Bremerton.Plans by an unidentified Seattle developer to locate a card room and restaurant near the ferry terminal are at the early fact-finding stage, according to Bremerton Mayor Lynn Horton.Plans by the owner of a bowling alley and card room in Kenmore to take over the long-vacant West Park Lanes are much farther along, she said.Frank Evans, owner of Kenmore Lanes - which he said is the largest bowling alley in the state - is negotiating with city officials to lower Bremerton's 20 percent card room tax.I wouldn't be able to make it in Bremerton at 20 percent, Evans said.Evans wants to invest $2.5 million to renovate West Park Lanes, located west of State Route 3 and Kitsap Way, into a 48-lane bowling alley with restaurant, bar, card room, pro shop and rooms for billiards and video games.He wants to rename it Bremerton Lanes and hopes to open by Dec. 1.Evans' alley in Kenmore employs 180 people, and he said Bremerton Lanes would employ up to 150. About 4,500 customers pass through Kenmore Lanes each week, but Evans expects about 3,000 in Bremerton.We're very family-oriented, he said. We don't try to replicate Las Vegas.He said 24-hour surveillance inside and out at Kenmore Lanes makes it safe for families. He intends to do the same in Bremerton. As in most alleys and card rooms, smoking will be allowed - but Evans said he intends to install a sophisticated ventilation system similar to the $60,000 system in Kenmore.He said he is looking at sites in other communities in case Bremerton doesn't work out, but Bremerton's my first choice.Evans has been in discussion with the city since February. Horton said the City Council likely will place the matter on its agenda within the next few weeks.Two representatives of an unidentified developer from Seattle met with the mayor April 25 for preliminary discussions on locating downtown.They said they wanted it to be a quality casino and restaurant, close to the Bremerton Transportation Center, to take advantage of Seattle tourists, she said.Horton said developers initially considered using the J.C. Penney building at Burwell Street and Pacific Avenue, but This caused me some concern because of its (large) size. She said they spoke of needing about 5,000 to 6,000 square feet. The mini-casino would be smaller than J.C. Penny but larger than Chips.Chips Casino is located in Redwood Plaza on Riddell Road.There's a movement on the part of larger casinos to look at building smaller urban casinos. One of the reps I talked to said he'd worked for a larger casino in the Las Vegas area, Horton said.The developer remains unidentified because city administration misplaced the representatives' business cards. Horton said she expects they will re-contact the city. "

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