Kenmore City Councilman John Hendrickson, a longtime foe of gambling, surprised residents and fellow council members Monday night when he...

Share story

Kenmore City Councilman John Hendrickson, a longtime foe of gambling, surprised residents and fellow council members Monday night when he abstained from a vote to ban social cardrooms in the city.

“They were counting on me to vote with them last night because I agree with them. The only problem is that the community didn’t agree with them,” Hendrickson said yesterday. “I think gambling is an industry that is predatory and exploits people.”

Hendrickson said he abstained from the vote because he did not see an imminent threat of cardroom expansion in Kenmore.

Supporters of the move to ban cardrooms — Mayor Steven Colwell and Councilmen Glenn Rogers and Jack Crawford — outnumbered opponents Bob Hensel and Marcia Schwendiman 3-2. But Hendrickson’s abstention and Deputy Mayor David Baker’s absence left the seven-member council one vote shy of passing the ordinance.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks

City law requires four yes votes, said City Attorney Rod Kaseguma.

The city’s only cardroom is the 11th Frame Restaurant and Lounge, which has been dealing poker and blackjack games inside the Kenmore Lanes bowling alley since the 1970s. Social cardrooms, also known as “mini-casinos,” can operate up to 15 tables. Bets are capped at $100.

Monday’s vote means any business that sells food or drink can apply for a permit to open a social cardroom in Kenmore.

But businessman Len Griesel, who has been trying to get authorization for a cardroom since 1999, won’t gamble his money on an application just yet. He said he is waiting until the majority of the council votes to allow gambling before applying to open a mini-casino in his Kenmore Square Mall on Northeast Bothell Way.

“It’s a pretty rigorous and expensive project to make an application. Until this is resolved once and for all, I’m not going to incur the expense,” Griesel said. “They keep forgoing making this decision.”

Griesel sued the city and won in December 2004, ending a 5-½-year moratorium on cardroom permits that prevented anyone from applying for a new permit but allowed the 11th Frame to continue operating. Superior Court Judge Terry Lukens, in ruling for Griesel and against the city’s moratorium, gave Kenmore until June 23 to either ban all cardrooms or allow applications for new ones.

A total ban likely would be enacted if Griesel — or someone else — applied for a permit. The council has asked that it be alerted as soon as an application is received.

“I expect another will come soon,” Crawford said.

If the council enacts a ban, the 11th Frame’s permit would expire at the end of the year.

“I’ve lobbied until I’m blue in the face, and there’s nothing more but wait until [Councilman] Baker gets back [from Hawaii] next month and see what happens,” Griesel said. “I’ve waited 5-½ years; one more month isn’t a big hardship.”

Lara Bain: 206-464-2112 or