The City of Fife has changed course on its plans for future minicasinos and card rooms in the city.
Rather than banning gambling premises, as the city’s planning commission initially recommended, the Fife City Council has voted to limit the businesses to one zoning district and require that they operate in conjunction with well-rated hotels.
The council unanimously approved the change last week, just before a moratorium on gambling businesses was set to expire this week. That ban was originally passed in October 2012, then extended several times as city staff, committee members and elected officials researched and discussed how gambling centers should fit within the city’s vision.
The new regulations limit gambling premises to a regional commercial zone, primarily located along the Pacific Highway East corridor. They require the businesses to be a secondary, “accessory” use to a hotel that meets size and quality standards.
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David Osaki, Fife’s community development director, said hotel development is an important factor as the city looks to increase economic development.
Hotels with gambling premises must have a three-diamond AAA rating or higher and must have at least 100 rooms. Gambling activities must be located in the building with the greatest number of rooms if the hotel site has multiple buildings.
“It incentivizes a certain type of hotel development,” Osaki said. “We’re going to want a hotel that has a certain quality and a certain amount of amenities.”
No council members or residents made comments prior to the vote.
Two tribal gaming businesses located in the city limits — the Emerald Queen Casino and BJ’s Bingo, located along Pacific Highway East — won’t be affected by the change. Enterprises owned by the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and tribal members are not subject to city regulations.
The only nontribal gambling center in Fife, Freddie’s Club, closed in 2012 after filing for bankruptcy. Osaki told The News Tribune earlier this year that the closure sparked a conversation about how these types of businesses mesh with the city’s vision for the future.
The discussion is part of a larger narrative surrounding a city center plan that officials introduced in 2012. Fife is divided by Interstate 5 and lacks a true downtown, so city officials have been working on a plan guiding development of a city center for the next 20 to 30 years.