April 14th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1953, Seal Beach citizens voted to ban gambling in the city by a narrow margin. The votes against gambling tallied at 848 against 811 for legalizing gambling.

The city had previously voted 761 to 661 in October 1952 to scrap an ordinance that allowed the Airport Club, a poker and bingo establishment to operate. The April 14th election had been initiated and funded by Airport Club owner William Robertson to prevent the club from closing on May 20.

Airport Club

This would not be William Robertson’s final attempt to keep the Airport Club from closing permanently. The Long Beach Independent estimated that the around-the-clock 24/7 gambling club was racking in a million dollars in revenues annually, a cash flow anyone would be reluctant to see go away forever. Many colorful strategies were concocted to revive the Airport Club, but local anti-gambling forces ultimately prevailed in keeping gambling dead in Seal Beach.

The Airport Club remained closed until Robertson revived the location as a teen dancing club in the sixties, The Marina Palace. 

– Michael Dobkins

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2 Responses to April 14th in Seal Beach History

  1. Kari E Johnson says:

    I certainly remember its tenure as the Marina Palace. Cave-like, no ambiance. But, yes, a place for we teens to go and dance if somebody couldn’t borrow Pop’s car and drive us somewhere more appealing or exciting. But I did not know its early history had been as a gambling den (of iniquity)!


  2. I was wondering what year they took the Airport Club sign down. Not sure if I remember seeing it…


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