Kennewick threatens Cable Bridge Casino

KENNEWICK — The city of Kennewick has taken steps to revoke the business license of Cable Bridge Casino for not paying its gambling taxes.

A city official Friday served a notice to that effect to the casino at 101 S. Gum St., said Pat Jutz of Walla Walla, who co-owns the business. Jutz and the co-owner do business under the name of Bevl LLC, a limited liability corporation.

The casino owners have 10 days to appeal and request a hearing or to pay the back taxes, penalties and interest, which the city claims are close to $345,000.

Jutz said Friday evening that he wanted to talk to his attorney before deciding what to do about the notice. If the casino decides to appeal, it would remain open until the appeal is resolved.

But Jutz said he has given some thought to what he would say if he decides to ask for a hearing. "(The notice) says 'willful disregard,' " Jutz said. "It wasn't willful. It was just a bad economy. There's simply not enough money to pay everything."

Kennewick City Attorney Lisa Beaton said the casino started falling behind on paying its quarterly gambling taxes to the city sometime in 2008.

The city imposes a 10 percent tax on gross receipts of cardroom, pull tabs and punch card games.

Additionally, in cases of late payment, the city charges a 50 percent penalty fee as well as interest.

Throughout 2009, the city had agreed to allow the casino to make weekly payments "but (the payments) never totaled the quarterly amount that was owed," Beaton said.

In early 2010, the city told the casino owners that they had to come up with a payment plan or the city would have to pursue what was owed, she said.

In February 2010, the city accepted a proposed payment plan that required the owners to pay off just the back taxes, she said.

"But (the owners) never fulfilled that agreement," Beaton said.

Then on Nov. 30, the city filed a lawsuit in Benton County Superior Court saying the casino owners owed the city $344,990.64.

On Friday, Beaton didn't have an exact figure for how much of that is back taxes.

As of Friday, the casino owners had not yet responded to the lawsuit, Beaton said.

Shortly after filing the lawsuit, the city asked the Washington State Gambling Commission to revoke Cable Bridge's gambling license.

Jutz verified that the commission has notified him it plans to revoke the license.

He said his attorney has asked for a hearing on the matter. "He wanted to assemble all the facts," Jutz said.

Jutz also owns the Blue Mountain Casino in Walla Walla.

Beaton said the city generally has been able to work out payment plans with other casinos that have fallen behind in paying their gambling taxes.

In January 2010, the city filed a lawsuit against Classic Island Casino for $216,000 in taxes, penalties and interest.

The city later was able to work out a payment plan, which the casino owners have abided by, Beaton said.

"We'd rather see businesses succeed than have to pursue these things," she said. "But obviously, (the Cable Bridge Casino) is at a point we just must pursue the gambling taxes."