A state bill that would have paved the way for Bay 101's move to Milpitas died over the weekend, leaving the fate of the San Jose card room uncertain.
Assembly Bill 2549, authored by Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D-Culver City), would have trumped an existing law that prevents casinos from moving to another city without approval from its current city. The legislation, which failed to clear the Senate Rules Committee over the weekend after passing the Assembly, would have allowed voters (Milpitas voters) to sign off on Bay 101's move, as long as it stayed within Santa Clara County.
Concerns were raised about the bill's author, Ridley-Thomas, who seems to have little connection to the area. His district is a five-hour drive to Bay 101. According to his staff, Milpitas officials approached him to author the bill. That could not be confirmed.
Bay 101 owners have been looking for a new location because the current site lies in the path of future development. Realty group Peery Arrillaga plans to raze the facility to clear the way for a huge office park. The current lease expires in 2017, which means Bay 101 is running out of time, both to find a new home and to build a new complex.
The Bumb family, which made its fortune with the San Jose Flea Market before venturing into gaming in the '90s with Bay 101, wants to boost its casino operation by adding tables. But San Jose voters denied a 2012 measure that would have allowed the city's two casinos (the other being Casino M8trix) to expand their cardrooms.
The city's two mayoral candidates, Councilman Sam Liccardo and Supervisor Dave Cortese, have taken a "tough-on-crime" stance against gambling, which doesn't bode well for the casino's future in San Jose. Liccardo, especially, came out against M8trix after state Attorney General Kamala Harris accused the establishment of running a $119 million shell game to skirt city tax dues and avoid contributing to a nonprofit gambling addiction program.
Combined, Casino M8trix and Bay 101 generate about $15 million a year in tax revenues for the city.
The Bumbs bought a 16-acre site in north San Jose, near Bay 101's current site, and created a development plan that asks to raze an existing hotel to make way for a two-story, 87,000-square-foot card room and two adjacent hotels.