A new ownership group is in line to purchase the 500 Club in Clovis — a process that could take three to six months.
Written by Edward Smith
The Clovis City Council voted Monday on two different items—first to approve the transfer of the 500 Club’s gambling license, and second, to establish how much the casino should pay to the city.
The council voted 4-1 at to grant K & M Casinos, Inc. the gaming license necessary to operate the casino, with Mayor Bob Whalen the only vote against, according to John Holt, assistant city manager.
Michael LeBlanc and Kevin Barclay with K & M are now awaiting the final word from the California Gambling Control Commission, a branch of the Department Justice, for the license before they can purchase the location at 771 W. Shaw Ave. from Louis Sarantos.
If the CGCC approves the license, which Holt says is likely to take 3-6 months, the city can then begin charging K & M for its licensing fees, which haven’t been reviewed since 2012.
“It was always the intent to revisit the license fee in the future and when and if the 500 Club were sold,” according to the report.
Staff at the city manager’s office recommended that the casino establish the rate at 10 percent of gross revenue, which is more in line with what Club One Casino in Downtown Fresno pays the City of Fresno, said Holt.
But, when K & M requested that they be given some time with the business, the city council agreed on a rate that would begin at 6.25 percent for the first year, 8 percent for the second year and 10 percent for the third year — sometime in 2021.
By that time, the city estimates that the difference between 6.25 percent and 10 percent would bring in an additional $250,000 per year if they continue with the amount of business they’ve been doing.
The city already makes an estimated $420,000 per year in licensing fees at the Shaw Avenue location, which was previously based on a graded scale of income.
The Club One Casino in Downtown Fresno, not related to the 500 Club, pays a scaled permit fee between 9 and 13 percent, based on revenue.
Louis and George Sarantos bought the 500 Club from their parents when it was located in Old Town Clovis. In 2009, Louis Sarantos proposed both to buy out his brother’s stake in the company and to expand from the Old Town Clovis location, which is now a bar and grill, to the location on Shaw Avenue. Sarantos will continue to own that restaurant location.
It took five various proposals before the expansion was approved in September 2011.
Back in August 2017, agents from the California Attorney General’s closed the casino’s 18 card tables due to a lack of cash on-hand before it reopened later that month.