SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced settlements against Paso Robles Central Coast Casino, Magnolia House Casino in Rancho Cordova, and Casino Marysville for failure to meet their obligations under the California Gambling Control Act of 1998, which requires all gambling establishments to operate in a manner suitable to protect public health, safety, and general welfare. Each of the three card rooms demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to comply with California law including failing to take corrective measures or adequately respond to requests for information. As part of the settlements, the California Department of Justice secured $165,000 in cost recovery and fines and each of the card rooms must be sold.
“You either play by the rules or you can expect to pay the price,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Gambling regulations are about protecting the public and making sure the wrong people don’t put their thumb on the scale. If card rooms can’t hold up their end of the bargain, then we’ll take action — and these settlements are proof of that. At the California Department of Justice, our special agents and legal team stand ready to uphold our state’s gaming laws.”
Details regarding the card room settlements, approved by the California Gambling Control Commission (CGCC), are as follows:
Paso Robles Central Coast Casino: On May 28, CGCC approved a stipulated settlement between the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Gambling Control (BGC) and Donald Ezzell, the owner and sole shareholder of Paso Robles Central Coast Casino. Paso Robles Central Coast Casino is a six-table card room in Paso Robles. In the second amended accusation, BGC alleged that the card room failed to maintain adequate financing, ignored notifications to correct non-compliance issues, impeded regulators by failing to provide requested surveillance footage, and improperly used third-party funds for its own benefit. Under the terms of the settlement, Ezzell is required to sell the card room, operate under additional oversight conditions in the interim, and pay $65,000 toward costs associated with the investigation and prosecution. A copy of the accusation is available here. A copy of the stipulated settlement is available here.
Magnolia House Casino: On May 8, CGCC approved a stipulated settlement between BGC and Four Leaf Clover Investments, LLC and Thomas Sheridan, the majority stakeholders and operators of Magnolia House Casino. Magnolia House Casino is a 10-table card room in Rancho Cordova. The card room was closed in January when BGC served an emergency closure order after the owners, despite numerous warnings from regulators, failed to take corrective actions. In the first amended accusation, BGC alleged that the card room operated at a dangerously low level of funding, improperly used third-party funds for its own benefit, and failed to disclose full and true information regarding its operations to regulators. Under the terms of the settlement, the controlling owners of Magnolia House Casino are required to sell the card room or their interest in it, operate under additional oversight conditions in the interim should the card room reopen, and pay $50,000 toward costs associated with the investigation and prosecution. In addition, the agreement prohibits Sheridan from operating a gambling establishment under CGCC’s jurisdiction for life. A copy of the accusation is available here. A copy of the stipulated settlement is available here.
Casino Marysville: On March 26, CGCC approved a stipulated settlement between BGC and Sau Phong, the owner and sole shareholder of Casino Marysville. Casino Marysville is a three-table card room in Marysville. In the first amended statement of reasons for denial of a license renewal application, BGC alleged that the card room violated state and local laws governing the manner in which controlled games must be conducted and demonstrated a pattern and practice of an unwillingness or inability to comply with the law. Under the terms of the settlement, Phong is required to sell the card room, operate under additional oversight conditions in the interim, and pay $50,000 in fines. A copy of the statement of reasons is available here. A copy of the stipulated settlement is available here.
Attorney General Becerra is committed to protecting the interests of the people of California and upholding the state’s laws and regulations. A video highlighting the work done by BGC special agents and other critical staff every day is available here. Last week, BGC served an emergency order closing Towers Casino in Grass Valley pursuant to the COVID-19 executive orders issued by the Governor's Office. Late last year, special agents with the California Department of Justice arrested two individuals for their alleged involvement in an embezzlement scheme that resulted in the theft of more than $200,000 from the Red Hawk Tribal Casino. The Attorney General also secured a more than $3 million settlement against Hawaiian Gardens Casino for misleading gambling regulators and violating federal laws intended to protect against money laundering. Earlier this month, Attorney General Becerra announced the seizure of dozens of firearms, tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition, ghost guns, assaults weapons, and drugs during 12 operations conducted across the state by special agents with the California Department of Justice. He also filed misdemeanor price gouging charges against a California grocery store for allegedly increasing prices on food items by as much as 200 percent. Information on the California Department of Justice’s efforts to protect the public during COVID-19 is available on the Attorney General’s website at https://oag.ca.gov/consumers/COVID-19.