Organizers of a campaign event benefiting Battle Ground City Councilman Mike Ciraulo’s bid for re-election have received a verbal warning from the Washington State Gambling Commission for operating a poker tournament fundraiser without a license.
Restaurateurs Mike Galeotti and Russell Brent received the warning last week for holding an unlicensed “poker night” Sept. 14 at a wine cellar adjacent to the former location of Galeotti’s Restaurant at East Main Street. Between 21 and 24 people attended the event, which raised more than $2,000 for Ciraulo’s re-election campaign, according to a report released by the gambling commission.
Ciraulo was not named in the commission’s verbal reprimand. Instead, the report says event organizers failed to secure the license necessary to hold a fundraising event featuring card games.
The event was widely promoted on Facebook, where posts to the “Vote Ciraulo” page touted the fundraiser’s $50 poker tournament buy-in, complimentary cigars from a local tobacco shop and “fine drinks.” But organizers ran afoul of the gambling commission after the agency received an anonymous tip about it last month.
‘A political move’
Ciraulo has been actively raising money for his campaign against Lyle Lamb for Battle Ground’s council Position 1, raising more than $7,364, according to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission.
A former mayor who’s served on council for more than a decade, Ciraulo questioned the timing of the tip.
“This is a political move during a political season that’s trying to attack me,” he said.
Ciraulo characterized the mistake as a “minor detail” the organizers overlooked.
Galeotti, who owned Galeotti’s Restaurant until it closed last year, told a gambling commission investigator he was unaware of the license requirements but would comply with them in the future.
While Battle Ground has a moratorium on commercial and nonprofit cardrooms that charge fees, the gambling commission has characterized the September event as a fundraiser. Battle Ground’s cardroom ordinance permits fundraisers, so it appears no violation occurred and the city won’t investigate it, according to Bonnie Gilberti, Battle Ground’s spokeswoman.