You can't have your cardroom and ban it, too. That's what King County Superior Court Judge Terry Lukens told the city of Kenmore last week when he overturned Kenmore's five-and-a-half-year-old...

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You can’t have your cardroom and ban it, too.

That’s what King County Superior Court Judge Terry Lukens told the city of Kenmore last week when he overturned Kenmore’s five-and-a-half-year-old gambling moratorium.

The moratorium currently allows the cardroom at the 11th Frame Restaurant and Lounge bowling alley and casino on Bothell Way to remain open but prohibits new cardrooms.

Lukens’ decision gives the city until July 2005 to either ban gambling in Kenmore altogether or allow applications for new cardrooms.

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Len Griesel, the plaintiff in the case, has been trying to get permission to open a cardroom in his Kenmore Square Mall, next door to the 11th Frame, since 1999.

“I think it’s the correct decision,” he said. “But we’re certainly not out of the woods yet. … Until that final decision [about gambling] is made, I’m still in limbo.”

The decision marks the latest development in the city’s years-long debate. In September, Kenmore residents voted 3,065 to 3,017 against a prohibition on gambling.

But even Griesel said that the election result should be interpreted more as a sign of community support for the 11th Frame — a major local employer and a popular bowling alley — than as an endorsement of gambling in general.

“I think it was the bowlers that won that,” he said.

Kenmore brings in about $600,000 in revenue annually from taxes on the 11th Frame cardroom. On Dec. 13, the City Council increased the city’s cardroom tax by 36 percent, a change that was estimated to increase annual revenue by $218,000.

Kenmore Mayor Steve Colwell had no comment yesterday on the decision aside from saying he was “surprised” by it.

Before the ruling, Colwell had hinted that he would push for an outright ban on gambling if Griesel won the case, since “that would mean that more gambling establishments would be allowed, and it’s quite clear that the citizens of Kenmore do not want more gambling.”

Councilman Jack Crawford was more direct.

“I’ve been for banning cardrooms … for over six years,” he said. “I hope three others [on the seven-member council] agree with me.”

Over the past two years, some on the council have lobbied Kenmore’s representatives in the Legislature for a change in state law, transferring zoning control over gambling establishments from the state gambling commission to city governments.

Such a legislative change would allow Kenmore to make its moratorium permanent, keeping the 11th Frame and its tax revenue but not allowing gambling to spread.

Colwell doesn’t have much hope in that approach.

“In talking with the Legislature recently, it’s just not on their radar screen,” he said.

Jim Downing: 206-515-5627 or jdowning@seattletimes.com