COLMA — Rene Medina, owner of Lucky Chances Casino, is in the process of transferring 100 percent of his shares of stock in Lucky Chances Inc. to his two sons Rommel and Ruell Medina for estate planning purposes, according to his attorney, Rodney Blonien.

On Wednesday, the City Council is expected to approve the move that would grant the two sons complete ownership of the 24-hour card room on Hillside Boulevard.

Rene Medina is under indictment for income tax evasion and is currently free on $6 million bail. If convicted in federal court, Medina faces jail time.

Blonien said Medina's transferring of shares to his sons is not connected with the indictment.

"He was advised that he should begin allotting some things to his children rather than having them go through probate and this is part of that," Blonien said Monday. "Their intent is to feel comfortable inrunning the business. Then they will see if there's a possibility in adding games and doing other things."

In August 2006, the state Gambling Control Commission approved the transfer of shares to the two men. On June 28, both received their gambling licenses from the commission.

Blonien said he did not know the value of the stock, but called it a "considerable" amount.

Last year, the senior Medina transferred the ownership of his other business, Lucky Money, to his sons, Blonien said.


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Lucky Money is a service that allows people to send money to their relatives living in the Philippines. There are more than 50 branches nationwide.

The casino has had its fair share of controversy, which included former Colma mayors Philip Lum and Ronald Maldonado.

In April, Lum pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in San Francisco after being indicted for accepting several plane tickets to the Philippines from Rene Medina, who lives in Woodside.

Lum — who served on the council from 1986 to 2006 — did not report the gifts. He later admitted that he voted on council matters that would benefit the casino.

Lum ran for re-election last year, but lost to Joanne del Rosario. He is expected to face sentencing in July.

Maldonado was charged with fraud by the U.S. Department of Justice for also accepting plane tickets from Medina and failing to disclose the gifts on a required income form. Maldonado stepped down as mayor in 2004.

Lucky Chances opened on June 1998. An estimated 800 to 1,000 people visit the 43-table card room on a daily basis, said Shift Manager Cathy Galleta.

Colma received $3.6 million from the casino in gaming taxes last year, said Mayor Frossana "Fro" Vallerga.

According to Colma staff reports, there are no legal objections to the proposed transfer of shares. Police Chief Bob Lotti ran a background check on the Medina brothers and found nothing to disqualify them from holding a license.

Vallerga said it's up to the council to make sure that the transfer is legal.

"It's up to us who runs (the casino)," she said. "We don't always grant everything it wants. Our main concern is that it is running with the guidelines we've set."

The council meeting is at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall, 1198 El Camino Real.

Staff writer Christine Morente covers faith, families and North County. She can be reached at (650) 348-4333 or at cmorente@sanmateocountytimes.com.