Wizards Casino Closes, Blames Smoking Ban & Economy

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Story and Photo by Janet Grella

A reader tipped The B-Town Blog this morning that Wizards Casino in Burien was closing today. After an investigation, we found out that is indeed true – the doors are closed, and Wizards employed 130 people.

“The city’s (Burien) been great to work with,” said General Manager Pat Hosier.

The decline of Wizards “started with the smoking ban in 2005, where the Casino lost 17% of their customers, and didn’t make them up, and then the economy finished us off,” explained Pat.

We hope to sit down with Pat in the near future to discuss the decisions that went into closing a business that’s been in Burien since 1998.

Wizards was located at 15749 Ambaum Blvd. SW, next to Hi-Line Lanes.

The Wizards website mentions nothing about the closure.

For further information on this closure, check in The B-Town Blog, your most up-to-date local news source right here (you can get our RSS Feed here).

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30 Responses to “Wizards Casino Closes, Blames Smoking Ban & Economy”
  1. Tcb says:

    I think the smoking ban passed in 2005, which makes more sense because they couldn't have lost customers from the two dates being congruent.

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  2. btownblog says:

    You're right – the smoking ban was passed in 2005.

    Article has been revised to reflect correct year…thanks!

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  3. unclewoo says:

    From a gaming point of view, Wizards was always a bit shabby and the clientele seedy. As a "semi" professional poker player, wizards never really offered much compared to other casinos. The smoking ban hurt a lot of bars , restaurants, and casinos. And I don't even smoke.

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  4. Bob says:

    Many casino workers here in Illinois are also enjoying smoke free air since they got laid off. Illinois casinos are down over 20 percent. Expanding Indiana casinos were advertising on Illinois radio for experienced workers

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  5. Steven Taub says:

    Well I guess the powers that be felt that 130 people losing their jobs was a small price to pay then to allow patrons to smoke. Even though no one forced anyone to visit this place, thereby not forcing anyone to breath dirty air. And those employees who lost their job, let's poll them and see what they prefer, working there or not working in a terrible economy like this, but breathing clean air.

    Those who implemented the law banning smoking in clubs, bars, etc. . Congratulations. Be sure to run on that. But be sure to proudly show how great a law is, knowing that 130 or more people who lose their jobs are but a small price to pay.

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  6. lorax says:

    Those who implemented the law were the voters of the state of Washington, as it was a citizens' initiative, so you can thank the state's voters for that one Steven.

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  7. unclewoo says:

    From a gaming standpoint, wizards was not very competitive with other casinos.

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  8. Maxine says:

    I'm glad Pat mentioned the City has been great to work with. I remember that some months back Wizards asked the City Council to reduce the amount of gambling tax they had to pay and the City Council agreed to do that knowing that this business was having some finiancial difficulties. It appears that our City Council did what they reasonably could do to help.

    It is unfortunate, of course, that Wizards has closed and so many people are now out of work, but the fact remains that there needs to be a demand for what any business provides for the business to be successful. It would make a lot of sense in this economy that there is less demand for gambling as many people currently have less disposable income.

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  9. unclewoo says:

    From a gaming standpoint, wizards was not competitive.

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  10. Bob says:

    The UK is lowereing taxes on it's pubs to compensate for lost income due to the bans.__http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/Pubs-39kept-in-dark3...

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  11. Charlie Drumm says:

    Washington like many other states should get rid of their Smoking Bans. They should totally remove Government from the arena, The owner of a business should have sole discretion of what accommodation to tobacco consumers, if any, they wish to offer, Giving the Government roles to play, only encourages more roles to play, This creates bigger and bigger Government, We don't need bigger Government, We need much smaller Government. The fear of passive smoke is entirely out of hand., It is promoted by misinformation. Someone always says "there are studies" that conclude passive smoke dangerous, There are studies. But who is conducting the studies? Where are they being conducted? Are there critics of the Studies? Why aren't they heard? There have been no studies in ventilated public places that concluded passive smoke was dangerous.

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  12. Rob Johnson says:

    Personally I think it was a change in the menu and all the hippity hop music- you couldn't hear yourself think in that place, let alone enjoy your meal. That and no machines to play (Thanks legislature)

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  13. cyndi says:

    Wizards was always community minded. They gave money and equipment and held fundraisers from Burien non-profits when they still had a clientele. There are a lot of "flush" businesses around that don't do anything for local nonprofits. They were good for the city.

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  14. unclewoo says:

    Al Capone and Pablo Escobar were community minded too. Gamblers didnt want to play there because of all the riff raff that hung out in the bar. And out front smoking, with the security guard who looked like he would just as soon car jack you.

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  15. Bob says:

    These smoking bans will probably go down in history as one of the greatest marketing scams ever. They want to "hurry up and pass the bans" before people find out who is paying the lobbyists pushing for them.__Here's the beginning of the ban movement in the USA.__http://www.rwjf.org/pr/product.jsp?ia=143&id=14912__... are the instructions from Johnson and Johnsons' (makers of cessation products) RWJ Foundation__http://www.no-smoke.org/pdf/CIA_Fundamentals.pdf

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  16. CouldaShouldaWoulda says:

    Sucks that people are losing there jobs, but what on earth are the lushes from Ernie's going to do now? Can't even sober up with a good meal before they hit the roads drunk. Might want to add some extra police patrol now to make a little extra cash for the community.

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  17. John says:

    Lousy loud music, drunks and derelicts, drug addicts, not to mention lousy service near the end also had something to do with it's demise.
    At first it was great. Loved the food and got great service.
    Then the menu changed, the help ignored you and then low lifes started showing up even more.
    Little wonder it closed down.

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  18. J.B. says:

    Economy or no economy, smoking or non smoking that parking lot was always packed. Ask anyone that worked there, if anything it was the management and security that was wizards true demise.

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  19. E says:

    How come all the other local casinos didn’t shut down after the no smoking ban was instilled? That ban had nothing to do with this businesses demise. I played poker and pai gow there a fairly good amount and must say that over the last few years the service sucked turned awful. The dealers sucked, the food and drink service sucked, the security didn’t do a thing except smoke out front. This Pat owner is simply refusing to accept ownership for running a business very poorly.

    However, I have a friend that works at Video Only and he just told me that Wizards Casino ordered 14 new flat screen televisions. Sounds like they might be making a comeback!

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  20. Andrew says:

    It’s plausible that the smoking ban weakened sales and that the economy was the final blow. If they saw the end coming they might have just had poor morale top to bottom.

    I’m ticked that the Hollywood Video by Fred Meyer closed down.

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  21. Former Employee says:

    There were other factors contributing to Wizards financial problems that made it significantly harder to be competitive and it became a downward spiral.

    Also, I worked there after the smoking ban…but I never would’ve worked there if it hadn’t been banned.

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  22. garcia says:

    Let’s make shrine- the landmark triad of buildings that represent the growth and greatness of… AZTECA! Kids walking to school need not witness the remains of another night a’gamblin’ til the wee hours. Why don’t they put a new casino where Vacca’s Patch used to be? It’d be equally as embarrassing, but beyond the sight of our kids… for now.

    Des Moines Memorial between 152nd towards Sunset Playfields to 128th… wasteland; it’s crazy how different that area is from just 15- 20 years ago. Frisbee golf course is cool, nice park w/playground, but not the same.

    I run through that area a lot, always trash everywhere; the number of broken CD’s and discarded couches matched the number of 2×4’s boarding windows of abandon houses.

    Anyone wanna get some Filberto’s? Oh, never mind…

    Ice Chalet would have still made a profit.

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  23. new wizards says:

    Your friend at video only is right! Wizards is going to re-open in December hopefully. It is getting a full remodel on the inside and an updated facade. The new ownership is local and excited about the opportunity to be open soon and give customers the best gaming and customer service experience they have ever experienced in a mini-casino.

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  24. bianca says:

    Woohoo! Reopening January 16th.

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    • Little Bird says:

      I used to work there, did anyone go to the Grand (?) opening? I am curious to know what it’s like now. May have to go see for myself. Is it worth my time?

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      • warrenb says:

        Anew coat of paint, but basically the same. Not as dark as before. I ordered dinner, and one hour later it still had not arrived! I left without being served. But the same rummy drunks and imbecile’s.

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        • suzieq says:

          I am actually quite impressed with the new Wizards! I was there Saturday and had a great time. The remodel looks nice and I thought the empolyees were very friendly and professional. Yes, food service was slow, but not unexpected for opening night. I will definitely be back!

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  25. john doe says:

    Wizards shut down because of back pay in taxes. It was a fun casino and very diverse. The bar made money and was always busy with regulars. Now wizards is an asain based casino only catering to the asain crowd. it now has a really goood asain menu that is very expensive and smalll portions if that is the price you wanna pay. and now has really shitty service. I waited 1hr for a taco salad. The only thing you have to cook is the ground beef. what in the hell took an hour.I really hate in now

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  26. Former Manager says:

    The original Wizards was open for more than 10 years, employed more than 1,000 employees over that time, lowered crime by 87% in their zone (2003 city crime statistics), was active in the community, and never had any criminal accusations for its mangers/owners.

    Someone asked why other area casinos have not closed and i would say you need to do more research. The overall gaming industry in the state is well down from the highs in the early-mid 2k range and several other casinos around that area closed. Some reopened and may be running, but Wizards is not alone. Sure, there are facilities that remain open that have been around a similar length of time, however their profits are way down and they have had to make cut backs and tighten the belt just to stay afloat. There were three other area casinos in dire financial trouble in early 2009 and all four casinos were simply trying to hold on to outlast the others in hope of getting business from whoever fell first and Wizards simply ended up being that first.

    The new Wizards is attempting to cater to a different crowd and has a very experienced group running it. How will it do long term? If the overall state/national economy doesn’t turn around it too will find it hard to survive in a gaming climate where large amounts of tribal money can force laws that only non tribal facilities must follow.

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  27. Hellpig says:

    There is no Wizards website the one you linked isn’t same wizards casino…..

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