Business · Fresno

Maxwell retreats, Bredefeld decries “shakedown” on Club One Casino bill

Coming into Thursday’s Fresno City Council meeting, District 4 representative Tyler Maxwell had been teeing up a resolution that would have brought Club One Casino back every five years to reapply for the card room permit.

But a last-minute tweak by Maxwell essentially rendered the proposal useless, which also came in the face of allegations by Councilman Garry Bredefeld that the resolution was effectively a shakedown by the council to receive campaign donations from Club One owner Kyle Kirkland.

The initial resolution would have required Fresno cardrooms to undergo annual reviews for four years with the operating permit expiring at a maximum of five years.

Maxwell’s tweak – which he said was an effort to be more business friendly as well as maintain long-term accountability – was to make the five year expiration only kick in if the state’s moratorium on issuing further cardroom licenses is ever lifted.

Maxwell also clarified that the resolution would only apply to the additional 20 gaming tables that are set to be approved for Club One at a future council meeting. In other words, the 31 tables that the council granted Club One two weeks ago are being grandfathered into the city’s previous practice and will not be in jeopardy for the five-year expiration possibility in the event that the moratorium is lifted.

Even though the state’s moratorium is scheduled to expire in January 2023, Mayor Jerry Dyer noted that the likelihood of the moratorium actually ending is slim to none.

“Having some insight in terms of how that moratorium came about, I do not personally think that moratorium will ever be lifted,” Dyer said. “In fact, the last vote I think there was only two people out of the entire legislature that voted to lift it. I do not see that happening in the future, so that is good news for us not having to do the five year review.” 

The council passed the altered resolution 5-2, with Bredefeld and Councilman Mike Karbassi dissenting. 

Even in light of Maxwell’s new alteration, Bredefeld went after his fellow councilmembers for the “unequal” treatment of Club One owner Kyle Kirkland throughout the permitting process and even went as far as saying the proposal would have been used to solicit fundraising from Kirkland over the next five years. 

“It’s my opinion that this was basically to shakedown Mr. Kirkland for donations over the next four or five years, and that’s my opinion because it makes no sense,” Bredefeld said. “All I can tell you, as I’ve said for the last two years, the stench continues and it’s reflected here, and it’s been led by Mr. Maxwell with this atrocious treatment of one of the best businessmen we’ve had in our city with an unblemished record who’s run a clean operation.”

Bredefeld continued the targeted attack on Maxwell for his lack of private sector experience.

“You, Mr. Maxwell, have never held a private sector job – wouldn’t know about a business if it landed on you – have treated [Kirkland] disgracefully,” Bredefeld quipped. “And you should be ashamed of yourself.”

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.