LODI (CBS13) — In the heart of Lodi’s wine region, a cardroom is calling sour grapes.

The city is telling its owners to take down all signs that refer to the business as a casino, even billboards outside city limits.

“The condition is that the business, which is a cardroom, cannot use the word casino in their signage,” said Rad Bartlam, Lodi’s city manager.

The cardroom was approved for a business permit back in 2007 under two conditions: It couldn’t be open 24 hours a day and it couldn’t call itself a casino.

Image is everything in Lodi, where they’re carefully crafting a wine region reputation. Even their wine bars aren’t called bars.

“Same thing applies here,” said Vanessa Foreman, general manager of the Cellar Door. “We’re definitely a tasting room, not a bar. So it’s really important how Lodi frames all these businesses in a particular way.”

Brian Sidener likes Lodi’s approach.

“I think for me, it makes a difference. Lodi’s a small, quiet town carving a niche for itself.”

In Lodi, city hall is raising the stakes on signs.

“If they choose not to do that, we have the ability to revocate their use permit and close the business,” said Bartlam. “Obviously that’s not our desire.”

So all the chips are in and the billboard bets are down. The question is, will the casino signs stay up?


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