Local

State shuts down Sacramento’s Casino Royale

lsterling@sacbee.com

Agents from the California Bureau of Gambling Control shut down the Casino Royale in north Sacramento Monday morning after it allegedly failed to pay off nearly $60,000 in winnings it owed customers.

An emergency order issued by the bureau – an arm of the state Department Of Justice – ordered the card club, which operates about 15 tables, to immediately close and stop any gambling activities.

The bureau alleged that on Oct. 10th or 11th, a player who won about $60,200 at the club’s Pai Gow tile game tried to cash out and was only paid $20,000 and instructed to come back later that day and again several days later to collect the balance.

A subsequent investigation revealed that Casino Royale was short by approximately $268,684 “and lacked sufficient available funds to cover the chips-in-use, the players’ banks, the player-funded jackpots and house-funded jackpots,” according to the bureau’s emergency order.

The bureau said it gave the club 10 days to provide evidence it had enough cash to cover what it owed. But a follow-up on-site investigation Oct. 29 found it was still short by $55,156.

The club’s “inability or unwillingness to have adequate funds available” to cover its liabilities, such as chips on the tables and the money players have deposited with the club, “poses an immediate threat to the public’s health, safety and welfare,” the emergency order said, citing violations of the state’s Business & Professions Code.

As part of the closure process, the agents did a thorough inventory of the club and seized financial records to prepare for a full audit, said Department of Justice spokesman Nick Pacilio. The bureau also filed an action to revoke the gaming licenses of the club and its owners, James Kouretas, William Blanas and Faye E. Stearns.

Blanas, a 25 percent owner, is the son of former Sacramento County Sheriff Lou Blanas, and managing partner Kouretas, who owns 50 percent, is a prominent Sacramento attorney and real estate developer. Blanas sued Kouretas earlier this year, alleging that he shredded casino documents and siphoned off casino funds for personal use.

The owners have 15 days to challenge the revocation of their license by requesting a hearing before a state Administrative Law Judge. The club is located inside the Red Lion Woodlake Hotel at 500 Leisure Lane. The club advertises poker, pai gow, pai gow tiles, blackjack and baccarat.

The club’s owners did not return calls to The Bee and an employee who identified himself only as Robert said “the club is temporarily closed.”

The club, which opened in 2008, has been embroiled in legal battles over its ownership, financing and remodeling work. It was originally located on Auburn Boulevard and moved to its current location in 2012.

Call The Bee’s Stephen Magagnini, (916) 321-1072.Bee researcher Pete Basofin contributed.

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