San Jose City Council Tells Cardroom Operators They Can Go Play Outside

Posted on September 2, 2020 - Last Updated on September 12, 2020

The San Jose City Council made a move Tuesday that likely pleased many residents. San Jose cardrooms will soon resume operations outdoors.

By a 10-1 vote, the council gave its nod to Bay 101 and Casino M8trix’s reopening plans. It’s part of a growing trend in the state that is putting cardroom employees back to work.

Why San Jose cardrooms are reopening outdoors

The bottom line is that for the foreseeable future, it’s the only way they can operate. California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered cardrooms to close their doors in the middle of July due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Right now, there’s no official timeline for when they might be able to reopen, even on a limited basis, in their usual facilities. Necessity has again mothered invention and these businesses have adapted.

Other cardrooms in the state have set up massive tents and ventilation systems to allow them to reopen outdoors. Even in those settings, however, they still face capacity limits and require guests to wear face masks.

It’s not clear yet when Bay 101 or Casino M8trix will reopen. Given that they have been shuttered for the majority of six months, the operators are likely eager to do so as soon as possible.

Bay 101 Vice President Ron Werner said his property will require guests to wear face masks. In addition, the makeshift casino will feature plexiglass guards between dealers and players along with limits on how many people can play at one time.

Both cardrooms will soon join the ranks of San Jose businesses operating in new outdoor accommodations. That’s good news for everyone involved.

City coffers, employees benefit from cardrooms’ returns

One of the incentives to add cardrooms to the list of businesses that can operate outdoors for San Jose is financial. The city’s budget for this year called for receipts of $18.9 million from the two cardrooms originally.

The city has revised that number since, and the cardrooms will still have to have a banner remainder of the year to avoid any further downgrades. That’s one of the issues that the council will have to watch going forward.

The council had approved a resolution raising the tax rate on cardrooms, up to 16.5%, last month. At the same time, it approved an increase in the number of tables they could offer.

With reduced capacities, the increase in the tax rate may hinder cardrooms’ viability. Other jurisdictions have mitigated these concerns by temporarily suspending tax assessments.

The city has already taken similar measures, waiving some fees for businesses to operate outdoors. At Tuesday’s meeting, the council did not vote on a delay to the scheduled tax increase for cardrooms.

One group of people who would probably like to see the city do everything it can to ensure cardrooms’ viability is the cardrooms’ employees. After having been laid off for months, getting as many of them back to work as possible is a priority for Casino M8trix.

Robert Lindo, Casino M8trix’s vice president, stated:

“Anything Casino M8trix can do to get our employees back to work safely, to generate some much-needed tax revenue for the city of San Jose, and to provide outdoor entertainment and food and beverage to our amazing patrons would be spectacular.”

Now with the necessary approval, Lindo and Werner can focus on getting back to business. The city and all the cardroom employees hope that business will boom shortly.

Photo by Getty
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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