Downtown Sacramento Skyline Could Get A Card Room This Year

Written By Jessica Welman on June 18, 2017
Downtown Sacramento

[toc]Downtown Sacramento, CA could be close to getting a card room, thanks to the efforts of local businessman Steve Ayers. His plan to open a California card room in the historic Elks Tower are closer to being a reality. However, there are still some hurdles to jump through, namely whether or not he can legally obtain a casino license.

Elks Tower Casino and Lounge to start with five tables

Eventually, Ayers hopes open a three-story casino and lounge within the Elks Tower. The property is iconic in Sacramento. First opened in 1926, the 14-story building previously served as a banquet facility.

“We’re not looking to create a Denny’s,” Ayers told the Sacramento Bee. “We’re looking to go over-the-top in design with Las Vegas-style elegance.”

The 24/7 card room would start with five tables on the ground floor of the building. If the casino starts turning a profit, Ayers plans to expand to a 17-table room in the basement of the building.

This is not the first time someone tried to bring a card room to the downtown area. However, it is the first time the city council endorsed the effort. In previous attempts, the city council blocked card rooms from coming into the area. In recent years though, the group is more amenable to casino-like establishments joining the local economy.

The Sacramento City Council approved the proposal in April, despite attempts from other local casino owners to block the project.

Ayers wants to acquire Casino Royale’s gaming license

Currently there are four available gaming licenses in the Sacramento area. One of those licenses belongs to the now-defunct Casino Royale. That casino operated in north Sacramento until 2014, when the California Bureau of Gambling Control closed the property for failure to pay customers.

In February of 2016, the owner of the Casino Royale paid fees related to the charges. While that settled the matter, what remains unclear is whether or not Casino Royale has a valid license anymore since it was out of operation for two years.

So, even though Ayers has a deal in place to acquire the license, other casino owners in the area say that is not legal. Both Capitol Casino and Parkwest Casino Lotus owners contend Ayers cannot acquire the license since the license is no longer valid.

The state gaming board will rule on the status of Ayers’s permit in October. Until then though, the other pieces seem to be in place. Ayers has the backing of City Council as well as support from the Downtown Sacramento Partnership. It seems, save for the other California casinos in the area, everyone is on board with Elks Tower Casino.

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Jessica Welman

A graduate of USC and Indiana University, Jessica Welman has long been involved in the poker industry. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and as the managing editor for

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