Seven Mile Casino Reopens With Conditions

By Eduardo Rueda, Investigative Reporter
Dempsey Seven Mile Casino

Chula Vista’s Seven Mile Casino reopened Tuesday night with a new manager after being shut down on December 9 in an early morning raid by the FBI, IRS, and State gaming officials.

The casino, along with the Palomar Card Club in San Diego, was closed by an emergency order from the California Bureau of Gambling Control.  The closure came on the day indictments were unsealed against 25 individuals connected to a wide-ranging money laundering investigation.  Seven Mile Casino, and its owner, Harvey Souza, are accused of failing to maintain anti-money laundering programs.

The casino announced this week that it would reopen after meeting new conditions set by the California Department of Justice and the Bureau of Gaming Control. One of the changes initiated this week include installing a new independent manager, Jimy McKee.
McKee, a 40-year veteran of the gaming industry, has previously held leadership positions in other casinos, as well as having served on the Nevada Gaming Commission. McKee also has 11 years of law enforcement experience and served in the US Marine Corp.
The new manager will monitor the day-to-day operations of the Seven Mile Casino and continue to work with law enforcement and gaming officials to ensure they meet all legal requirements of their licenses.

The indictments against the other individuals included charges of money laundering, running a sports book, running an illegal gambling operation in private homes, and transporting women across State lines for prostitution. The indictments estimate that the illegal gambling operations generated more than $10,000,000 in proceeds.
The indictments allege the illegal gambling proceeds were laundered through local casinos as well as the Bellagio and Wynn casinos in Las Vegas.

The Seven Mile Casino released a statement saying in part that “We look forward to working with the California Bureau of Gaming Control to resolve all issues.”

Souza, the owner of the Seven Mile Casino, has been a fixture in local civic and political circles for many years. His family has run a casino in Chula Vista for more than 70 years. Prior to opening the new location on Bay Boulevard this past July, the casino operated as the Village Club Card Room on Broadway since the 1950s.  The casino is the largest tax generators in the City of Chula Vista, paying more than $520,000 in annual fees.

The closure of the casino left its 300 employees out of work for several weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday.  Workers were back at work on Tuesday to a light crowd of patrons.

“I’ll be back to play at the casino and I hope it all gets resolved soon,” commented John Reynolds, an occasional card player that lives within blocks of the casino. “Mr. Souza has always seemed to me to be a nice man and I hope the charges don’t hurt the employees that work here,” he added.

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