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Adelanto City Council Passes Ordinance Allowing Card Clubs to Operate Once Again

ADELANTO, Calif. ( — Reviving the spirit of a bygone era, Adelanto City Council voted in favor of an ordinance during a recent Special City Council Meeting on December 4th, paving the way for the return of card clubs in the city.

During the council meeting, City Manager Jessie Flores presented the agenda item, highlighting the historical significance of card clubs in Adelanto. “On September 22, 1992, the City of Adelanto adopted Section 5.16 into its municipal code, allowing the operation of Card Clubs. Now, we have updated the ordinance to meet contemporary standards and attract potential card clubs,” stated Flores.

The last card club in Adelanto, the Hi Desert Casino, had a run from 1975 to 1997. Situated across from city hall at the corner of Air Expressway and U.S Highway 395, it became a popular destination for card enthusiasts from all over San Bernardino County. The Hi Desert Casino boasted a remarkable restaurant and bar that added to the overall charm of the establishment.

The newly updated ordinance includes several crucial changes aimed at modernizing the regulations surrounding card clubs. It removes outdated references and incorporates definitions for business activities operated by unaffiliated third parties, such as valet parking. The ordinance also addresses license applications, requiring a background investigation for key contacts in the business and the involvement of relevant gambling control commissions. Furthermore, the limit on the number of licenses has been set to a maximum of three, with specific parameters for table count at each club.

Adelanto’s decision to allow card clubs comes with significant economic advantages. It is estimated that an average card club, accompanied by a hotel and food & beverage services, could generate a total of $32 million in economic output. This development is expected to create approximately 280 jobs and contribute $765,080 in tax income to the city.

The council members engaged in thoughtful discussions prior to casting their votes. Councilwoman Amanda Uptergrove raised questions about the motivations behind the ordinance, to which City Manager Jessie Flores clarified that it was an effort to revive a unique aspect of Adelanto’s history and attract potential business opportunities.

“This is a project that I’ve been trying to revise for many years, and this is a card club casino that was in  place when I first moved up here over thirty years ago, and unfortunately for whatever reasons, it moved out of the city,” Flores stated. “And because this is a unique city with a license, I’ve been trying to revive that for many years now, and so the opportunity presented itself to amend the existing ordinance in order to attract a card club, in the event this opens up in the future for an opportunity. So we’re just basically polishing off this old ordinance to meet today’s card club requirements.”

Councilmember Joy Jeannette expressed her hope that the city would not repeat past mistakes in driving away the card club, referring to the closure of the previous establishment and the subsequent loss of tax revenue. Mayor Gabriel Reyes emphasized the importance of diversifying revenue streams while acknowledging that the outcome of this ordinance was uncertain.

Reflecting on the historical context, Mayor Gabriel Reyes mentioned that the area where the new ARCO AMPM fuel station now stands was once occupied by the former card club. Following the closure of the cardroom, the establishment relocated to the City of Commerce and opened a successful hotel. Unfortunately, the Adelanto Hi Desert Casino complex itself fell into a state of disrepair and was eventually demolished in September 2007.

With the passing of the ordinance, Adelanto is poised to embark on a path towards revitalization. While no specific plans are currently in motion, the city council recognizes the potential benefits of a revived card club and aims to create opportunities for future investors.

“Crazy, that we’re here with this, and that we’re making these potential amendments, I look forward to seeing what comes down the road with the potential amendments on this ordinance,” stated Mayor Gabriel Reyes.

The vote was unanimous, with Mayor Gabriel Reyes, Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Ramos, and Council Members Amanda Uptergrove, Joy Jeanette, and Angelo Meza all casting their votes in favor. The council’s decision signifies a unified vision for a prosperous future that pays homage to Adelanto’s past.

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