Bell Gardens : Club's Fee Formula Altered

The City Council has unanimously approved a change in the method of fee collection at the Bicycle Club.

Fees for low ball, draw and pan poker games will be collected on a per-hand basis rather than on a seat rental basis, said George Hardie, club general manager and partner. He said the formula--patterned after one at the California Commerce Club, which instituted the change in mid-October--has winners paying a larger percentage of the fees. "It doesn't penalize someone who is not having a run of luck," he said.

Currently, fees based on the size of the game being played are collected every half hour from each player.

Under the new procedure, only the person who wins the pot after each hand pays a fee, said Gary Stern, manager of the Commerce Club. That way, he said, "someone who's losing can play longer" and winners pay the fee out of their winnings.

Herb Stern, president of the Commerce Club, said the club conducted a computerized study that took more than a year to find a "more equitable method of collection" for players and one that would protect the club's interests at the same time. The result is the new system, which is advantageous to both the club and the players, he said. "We didn't grab it out of the air."

For example, in a $1 poker game, all players previously payed $1 every half hour for seat rental. Now the club takes out 50 cents per hand from the winner, Gary Stern said.

Club officials maintain that the revenues the club collects will remain about the same.

City Manager Claude Booker said the change, approved by the City Council on Monday, "won't affect city's revenues at all." Since July, the city has collected $777,875 from the club for card games and $691,457 from pai gow .

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