Find Out How Close Your Local California Cardroom Is To Reopening

Written By Matthew Kredell on September 11, 2020 - Last Updated on September 12, 2020

The California Department of Public Health recently issued specific industry guidance for outdoor operations that should lead to more cardrooms reopening.

At least seven California cardrooms have already reopened with outdoor gaming over the past month. Many more cardrooms would like the opportunity, but first need permission from their county.

Outdoor operations a good short-term fix

“We appreciate the state’s guidance on outdoor gaming,” said Kyle Kirkland, president of the California Gaming Association.

“While outdoor gaming is not a long-term fix, it will help some cardrooms be able to bring some employees back to work and generate some revenue to help stay in business. We will continue to work with the state to identify other relief we need including our urging to allow our cardrooms to open up for indoor gaming similar to the tribal casinos.”

Cardrooms are looking for alternatives to stay in business and support their workforce while waiting for coronavirus conditions to improve enough to operate indoors.

Under the state’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” cardrooms must wait until they fall into a specific tier in order to reopen indoors at reduced capacities.

The governor provided four color-coded tiers determining how businesses can operate. If the cardroom is in a county that reaches the orange tier, the cardroom can reopen at 25% capacity. If the county reaches the yellow tier, cardrooms can reopen at 50% capacity.

The monitoring list is updated every Tuesday. For a county to advance in tiers, it must meet the metrics for the next tier for two straight weeks.

Counties can only move one tier at a time, and there is a 21-day mandatory wait time between moves.

Only two cardrooms in the state have that orange status. Casino Club in Redding plans to be the first to reopen indoors Tuesday.

Tribal casinos in the state, with sovereign rights to determine their own course of action, are open for indoor operations.

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COVID-19 industry guidance: outdoor operations of cardrooms

The document provides guidance for the outdoor operations of cardrooms to support a safe, clean environment for workers. The guidance also applies to third-party providers of proposition player services (TPPPS) who operate within the cardrooms.

Guidelines outlined by the state include:

  • Ensure adequate lighting of outdoor gaming areas for worker safety and surveillance coverage.
  • Install barriers that prevent vehicles from entering the outdoor gambling area.
  • No more than one side of a tent or canopy may be closed.
  • Barriers to contain the outdoor gaming area may be no higher than 3 feet.
  • Cashier’s cages may remain indoors with partitions or physical barriers.
  • Place hand sanitizing stations in areas where queuing and handling of chips, cards, money and tickets occur.
  • Consider providing disposable gloves at each table.
  • Provide time between dealer rotations to allow for thorough hand-washing.
  • For card games where players touch the cards, the cards must be discarded every four hours, sanitized, or kept out of the rotation for a minimum of seven days.
  • TPPPS must use hand sanitizer prior to beginning play at each table and at the conclusion of the table rotation.
  • Chips should be removed from service and replaced with clean chips upon every dealer rotation, then washed and disinfected prior to circulation.
  • Configure tables and chairs, and reduce the number of occupants of gaming tables, so that customers and workers can maintain 6 feet of physical distance.
  • Discontinue meal service at gaming tables.
  • Operators may only sell alcohol when purchased in the same transaction as a meal.

LA cardrooms hope outdoor guidance helps get green light

Keith Sharp, an attorney for Gardens Casino in Hawaiian Gardens, said Los Angeles cardrooms are asking the county Board of Supervisors to let them reopen for outdoor gaming next week.

“We’re asking them next Tuesday to make the decision to allow us to reopen by the end of next week. We’ve proven we can do it and do it safely. We’re ready to go. We’re just waiting for the county and hoping the supervisors understand that people need to get back to work, and they need to get going sooner rather than later.”

The board previously gave Los Angeles cardrooms permission to reopen indoors in June, but Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered them closed 12 days later.

The Los Angeles cardrooms developed a joint health and sanitation program for the June reopening. Safety protocols included plexiglass between each player, customers required to wear masks, and dealers with face shields.

The protocols also included employees constantly cleaning surfaces.

Additionally, they are complying with emergency health regulations implemented by the Gambling Control Commission and meeting the state’s outdoor guidelines.

Sharp said all Los Angeles cardrooms plan to offer gaming outdoors. The cities where they are located, many of which depend on the revenue they generate, also support their reopening. At Gardens, they expect to offer between 40 and 50 tables compared to the usual 200 tables indoors.

“It’s sort of a band-aid,” Sharp said. “We’re not going to be able to have the number of tables as we do indoors, but it’s better than not operating at all. We’ll get some of our employees back to work and get the cities we’re situated in some revenue.”

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