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Casual games are almost as much a part of Seattle’s fabric as coffee and airplanes. But now, it appears one of the bedrock institutions of the industry is pulling up roots like a sunflower fleeing an approaching zombie.

Sources tell GeekWire that the big Casual Connect gaming conference will no longer be held in Seattle.

“It feels like when the Sonics left Seattle,” said GameHouse president Matt Hulett. He was recently notified through his company’s event planners that Casual Connect was leaving town.

“Seattle is the birthplace of casual games — and since I am represent(ing) the brand that helped to launch the industry, I am deeply saddened to see the conference go,” said Hulett. “The good news is that casual games as an industry have exploded into being one of the largest entertainment genres on the planet thanks to smartphones, tablets, and Facebook.”

Multiple sources say they’ve been told that the event is moving to San Francisco. The conference has been held each summer in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall. The group’s site lists next year’s USA conference dates as July 30 to Aug. 1, but it does not list a specific location.

The reasons for the move aren’t clear. Representatives of Casual Connect did not respond to GeekWire’s requests for comment, but we’ll update this post as we learn more.

Meanwhile, Seattle area gaming geeks can still get their fix at the Penny Arcade Expo. PAX, as it’s known, routinely draws tens of thousands of people each summer to the Washington State Convention Center.

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