SAN JOSE -- San Jose Police Chief Chris Moore is expected to decide Friday whether to approve the long awaited opening of Casino M8trix.
At a quick, 15-minute hearing Monday, the city's gaming administrator, Richard Teng, issued his report on the casino's permit. He recommended opening only the main floor, which would have more than 40 card tables, after the operators meet certain restrictions. The top floor, with only four tables, wouldn't open until later and only after a review by the police chief.
A spokesman for the casino said the recommendations from the city are tough, but acceptable.
"We're pleased. We're excited," said Sean Kali-Rai, a consultant for casino owners Eric Swallow and the Lunardi Family Trust. "It's a living, ongoing relationship with the city. There will be some give and take."
It's possible the casino could open before August, but neither the casino spokesman nor the police chief pointed to a specific opening day. Some of the conditions that Teng recommended don't appear to be quick fixes.
For example, he said the casino's surveillance system needs to undergo a final inspection first. He worried his office might not have a proper monitoring station at the card room or the ability to watch it and take still photographs by remote control.
In a curious, high-tech concern, Teng wants to review information from "electronic tracking devices" the casino wants to install on most card tables. The gadgets
Meanwhile, lawyers representing Bay 101, the city's other card room, sent a letter to Chief Moore on what it would not like to see at the competition across the Bayshore freeway. The no-nos from the McManis Faulkner law firm include: exclusive gaming or entertainment on upper floors, physical massage and special "enticements" to keep people gambling or eating there. Moore did not comment on the Bay 101 letter.
Casino M8trix represents the reinvention of San Jose's old Garden City Casino that Swallow and his partners, Peter and Jeanine Lunardi, purchased five years ago. The plan was to make a clean break from a history of criminal activity, bankruptcy and legal battles with the city under previous owners. The new owners had hoped to open the $50 million, high-rise card room on Airport Parkway in early April but were unable to secure the permit in time.
San Jose has some of the state's toughest card room regulations that were put in place more than a decade ago in response to criminal activity surrounding Garden City and Bay 101. The card rooms have since complained the city's rules make them unable to compete with tribal casinos just a short drive out of town.
Contact Joe Rodriguez at 408-920-5767.