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Friday, February 3, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Judge to tour area before casino ruling

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

A state judge who will help decide whether a Kingsgate cardroom will get a liquor license plans to tour the community before he writes his opinion, to better gauge how the neighborhood and Casino Caribbean coexist.

As a result, residents, schools and businesses are banding together earlier than usual for their annual neighborhood spring cleaning.

Saturday morning, come rain or less rain, participants will turn out to pick up litter and show their community pride. Even the local Safeway is in on the act, loaning shopping carts so volunteers won't have to haul trash bags by hand.

"We just hope to make a good impression," said Kingsgate resident Sandy Laurence, who, like many of her neighbors, opposed the opening of Casino Caribbean in November. They say a cardroom serving alcohol doesn't fit in a neighborhood that includes scores of houses and apartments, several schools and day-care centers, churches, a public swimming pool and a library.

Representatives from Casino Caribbean, King County and the state wrapped up a hearing Wednesday on the 15-table, house-banked cardroom's appeal for a liquor license. The state Liquor Control Board rejected the application last spring after receiving letters of objection from local leaders and residents.

State law requires the board to consider impacts on the health, safety and welfare of the community, as well as the concerns of local authorities and residents.

But those who support the casino say denying the license will hurt the ability of the Sno-King Amateur Hockey Association to sustain programs for its hundreds of members.

Sno-King began leasing half its bingo hall to Casino Caribbean last year to bring in more money for hockey programs and scholarships after bingo revenues tumbled. An attorney for the casino noted this week that eight other restaurants, bars and businesses already sell alcohol in Kingsgate.

Administrative Law Judge Robert Kingsley has 60 days to issue an initial decision. Parties then have 20 days to appeal to the Liquor Control Board, which will issue a final decision. That decision can be appealed in Superior Court. And under state law, Casino Caribbean can reapply for a liquor license in the spring.

Karen Gaudette: 206-515-5618 or kgaudette@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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