Councilman Charles M. Carroll asks for tolerance-for-gambling policy on May 26, 1969.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 5/21/2001
  • Essay 3293
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On May 26, 1969, Seattle City Councilman Charles M. "Streetcar Charlie" Carroll (d. 1985) asks the city council for a policy to allow gambling. Carroll states that Seattle has had a tolerance policy since the days of Mayor William Devin (1898-1982) in the 1940s. Washington state law prohibits gambling, even bingo. "I've agreed with this policy and defended it," Carroll said (The Seattle Times).

The council unanimously voted to table Carroll's proposal until the state attorney general issued an opinion on the legality of such a policy. The attorney general found both the tolerance policy and the games it encouraged to be illegal.

The policy set a $1 limit on cardroom game pots and limited the number of pinball machines an establishment could have. Seattle licensed cardrooms and pinball machines, receiving a fee for each game and device. The policy is credited with encouraging a police payoff system that resulted in the charging of several dozen police officers and public officials, including Carroll, with crimes related to corruption. Carroll's case was dismissed prior to trial.


David Suffia, "Councilman Asks New Tolerance Policy," The Seattle Times, May 27, 1969, p. 48; Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Grand jury hands down indictments in wide-spread police corruption scandal on July 27, 1971" (by David Wilma),

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