ANTIOCH -- Would-be bingo hall operators will have to wait longer to see what kind of gambling regulations the city will adopt.
Antioch City Council this week unanimously approved the extension of a temporary moratorium on permits or licenses for new or expanded bingo operations while it considers amending its rules to allay concerns about the crime that tends to go hand in hand with some of them.
The moratorium, which takes effect immediately and could last up to 10½ months, will allow organizations like Veterans of Foreign Wars that already hold occasional bingo games to continue, although they can't expand.
The council originally established a 45-day ban in July to reassess its Municipal Code after two groups applied for use permits to operate facilities dedicated to bingo. One applicant wanted to hold games 12 hours a day every day; the other planned to be open 5½ hours a day five days a week.
The proposals differ significantly from the way other organizations around town hold their bingo games, which occur less frequently because they're an incidental way of raising money instead of the sole focus.
As such, the city decided to take a good look at the possible consequences of allowing new bingo halls or existing ones to expand because it has had problems in the past with crime around card rooms and Internet cafes where patrons can gamble online.
In addition, officials need more time to update Antioch's bingo ordinance, which hasn't changed since 1980. The rules don't mention "remote caller bingo," a form of the game that enables players at multiple off-site locations to participate via video.
Representatives from one of the organizations that requested a use permit voiced fears Tuesday that the city would reject their application before they could properly address its concerns.
But council members reminded them that the meeting was strictly about buying time to think about how best to respond to the possibility of more and bigger bingo operations in Antioch and not the merits of their particular case
Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at Twitter.com/rowenacoetsee.