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Larry Flynt scores victory as Gardena budges on casino demand

The exterior of the Normandie Casino.
Larry Flynt threatened to shut down the former Normandie Casino, now known as Larry Flynt’s Lucky Lady Casino, after Gardena City Council members approved a measure requiring the adult entertainment mogul to contribute $800,000 monthly to the city.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Larry Flynt won a high-stakes gamble with the city of Gardena over the future of the the city’s oldest casino after the City Council voted Wednesday night to give the adult entertainment mogul the economic package he sought for his newly acquired business.

The adult entertainment mogul bought the gaming license for the former Normandie Casino on Rosecrans Avenue this month for an undisclosed price. Flynt, who already owns the nearby Hustler Casino, said he planned to spend at least $60 million over the next four years to renovate the aging facility and also renamed it Larry Flynt’s Lucky Lady Casino.

But Flynt threatened to shut down the casino and sell the license after the City Council voted last week to grant tax breaks to the Lucky Lady only if Flynt paid the city at least $800,000 a month from both casinos.

Previously, casinos have had to contribute 12% of their monthly gross revenues to the city. In 2014, the Hustler and Normandie, the only two casinos in Gardena, paid the city about $9.5 million. The minimum monthly payments of $800,000 a month would amount to $9.6 million a year.

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Evan Roosevelt, a spokesman for the Flynt Management Group, said the objection “wasn’t the amount, it was the monthly guarantee.”

After the meeting, Flynt said he intended to campaign against City Council members in the next election, according to the Daily Breeze. (The seat held by Paul Tanaka, the former L.A. County undersheriff recently sentenced to five years in federal prison for his role in obstructing an FBI investigation into deputy jail abuses, is already empty and will be filled via a special election or council appointment.)

The Gardena council held another meeting Wednesday night and unanimously approved a new economic package, which does not include the $800,000 monthly minimum stipulation. 

The new casino had been closed since Monday while undergoing small modifications but could open as early as Friday, Roosevelt said.

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“We’re hoping to get it open as soon as possible,” he said.

Members of the City Council could not be reached for comment and City Manager Mitch Lansdell did not return a call for comment.

The Normandie Casino had been owned by the Miller family since 1947, but several members pleaded guilty this year to shielding several high-rollers from federal reporting requirements and were ordered to sell the casino.

The Normandie Casino had experienced financial difficulty, especially after the Hustler opened in 2000. Gardena officials would not say how much each casino paid individually, but a recent report noted that “the Normandie Club has continued to struggle financially, with some periods of recovery.”

This isn’t the first time Flynt has been at odds with elected officials. He once offered a $1-million payment to anyone who came forward with evidence of adultery by a member of Congress or top government official.

jason.song@latimes.com

For California news, follow @byjsong

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UPDATES:

July 21, 11:10 a.m.: This article was updated with a vote count and additional details.

This article was originally published at 6:25 p.m., July 20.


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