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Feature Stories

A Casino in Long Beach?

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 21
10/18/2013


by Alison Keiser

The federal government is shut down. The economy is still slowly being rebuilt. Long Beach, as home of one of the largest ports in the nation and the flagship campus of the California State University system, has fared rather well in a difficult economy.

Long Beach Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske asked the city council last month to bring the Cyclone Racer Roller Coaster back to the downtown area. The coaster was once “the largest and fastest roller coaster in the U.S.” at one point, and was removed from the Pike more than 40 years ago.

Returning the Cyclone Racer to Long Beach’s tourist destination is not the only option for attracting more people to visit Long Beach. In the past, economic expansion has been offered to the city, including Tesla Motors.

“Long Beach has failed to seize many economic opportunities in the past years,” said Schipske last month. Recently, a petition to prevent casinos from being opened in the neighborhoods around Cal State Long Beach was being circulated.

While the neighborhoods around CSULB are mostly private homes, schools, and other residential trappings, the Pike is an ideal location to build a casino if the city of Long Beach were to consider taking on such an enterprise. To advance the unique spirit of the city, those in charge would do well to think “outside of the box.”

According to the Long Beach tourist site, VisitLongBeach.com, “Long Beach is one giant playground located right in the heart of Southern California.” Downtown Long Beach is a tourist’s dream, being the home of the Queen Mary and its neighbor, the Battleship Iowa, the Long Beach Convention Center, the Aquarium of the Pacific, and a port taking visitors to Santa Catalina Island. A casino might add to this image Long Beach is creating for itself.

Long Beach is in the middle of two highly visited Southern California tourist destinations: Hollywood and Los Angeles proper, as well as Disneyland in nearby Anaheim. By sharing a freeway with the Port of Long Beach, visitors can take the 710 artery to the veins of major freeways.

Across the 710, the Port of Long Beach is the second largest port in the continental U.S., after its neighbor the Port of Los Angeles. This means the Port plays an important role in fighting unemployment, in Long Beach and across the Nation.

According to the Port’s website, POLB.com, the company generates “more than 30,000 jobs in Long Beach, 316,000 jobs throughout Southern California and 1.4 million jobs throughout the United States.”
With so many people visiting the beach community between the two worlds of LA and Orange County, an establishment geared toward tourists, i.e. a casino, would be right at home in the sea of attractions and chain restaurants of the Pike.

A casino in Los Angeles County is not as far-fetched as some would think. LA County is currently home to 8 casinos in cities ranging from Glendale, Gardena, Commerce, and Inglewood. Hawaiian Gardens, one of Long Beach’s neighboring cities, is also home to a casino.

The Hawaiian Gardens Casino is the major employer and source of revenue for the city of Hawaiian Gardens. The casino is known locally as The Tent or The Dome due to its current tent-like structure. The nickname of The Gardens will likely change as plans to expand and build a $45 million dollar complex was recently approved by Hawaiian Gardens’ city council.

Any possible casino project in Long Beach would be many years in the making, with the likely lengthy negotiations between the City, the Port, Long Beach Tourism Board and LA county. For locals and visitors alike, the more ways to blow off steam considered, the better for the Long Beach economy.

alison@longbeachcomber.com