Kenmore's only cardroom is still alive — at least for a while. A U.S. District judge Thursday granted a temporary restraining order...

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Kenmore’s only cardroom is still alive — at least for a while.

A U.S. District judge Thursday granted a temporary restraining order against a cardroom ban passed by the Kenmore City Council last week. The ban was set to take effect Sunday, and the owner of Kenmore Lanes bowling alley and cardroom said he would have had to close and lay off all 220 employees.

The restraining order will last until at least Jan. 25 and give the cardroom a chance to mount a more serious legal challenge, said Frank Evans, the owner of the alley.

“Obviously, we’re pleased because it means I’m open January 1st,” Evans said.

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City officials could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The restraining order is the latest chapter in a long fight. A year after incorporating in 1998, the city installed a moratorium on additional cardrooms, but the ban was appealed by business owner Len Griesel, who wanted to open a cardroom of his own.

A King County Superior Court judge ruled that the city either had to allow all applications for cardrooms or ban them altogether.

Last fall, the political wind shifted when three people who favored a cardroom ban were elected to the City Council. Allan Van Ness joined the council early to replace an interim councilwoman, and on Dec. 19, the council approved the ban on a 5-1 vote.

Evans said the council’s decision gave him only a week or so to prepare for the closure and try to defend himself.

In 120 pages of briefs filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, Evans’ attorneys argued that the restraining order was necessary because the cardroom helped the community and accounted for 60 percent of the bowling alley’s revenue. They noted that Kenmore voters rejected a ban last year and that the cardroom has a state gambling license valid until the end of next year.

Ashley Bach: 206-464-2567 or abach@seattletimes.com