Hawaiian Gardens Casino’s Expansion Could Lead to Online Poker

Written By Steve Ruddock on February 18, 2014
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Located in Hawaiian Gardens, California, just outside of Los Angeles, the Hawaiian Gardens Casino is one of the larger and more prominent cardrooms in California.

History of the Hawaiian Gardens Casino

The Hawaiian Gardens Casino was the brainchild of Dr. Irving Moskowitz who bought the land in 1993 and opened the Hawaiian Gardens Casino’s doors in 1995; right next door to Moskowitz’s bingo hall which he purchased from the city in 1988.

The casino sprang up in what was at the time one of the most crime-ridden area of Los Angeles, and while gambling opponents will scream from the rooftops that casinos increase crime, the Hawaiian Gardens is perhaps the perfect example (Tunica, Mississippi is another) that casinos, and the employment opportunities they can bring, can do wonders to rehab an area.

Since opening the Hawaiian Gardens Casino the area has seen record drops in crime.

Still, the area isn’t quite what people consider “safe.” And because of its location, the Hawaiian Gardens employs a lot of security. With six hundred cameras in and around the facility to protect its patrons and the decreased crime rate, the casino is really helping to usher in a new era in the city and turning the surrounding area into a “safe” neighborhood.

The Hawaiian Gardens Casino today

Hawaiian Gardens, like all California casinos, is a non-smoking facility that offers tableside food and beverage options. Free wi-fi is available on the casino floor; automatic shufflers are used on all tables; as well as several amenities from dining options to massage being available.

Additionally, Hawaiian Gardens is currently undergoing a $45 million expansion that is anticipated to be finished sometime in early 2016, when the Hawaiian Gardens will move into its new 200,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility.

The expansion will make Hawaiian Gardens the largest card-room in California (in terms of square footage and possibly tables) and will also be a boon to the local economy as some three hundred to four hundred new jobs will be added—Hawaiian Gardens already employs about 1,600 people.

Like the Commerce Casino, Hawaiian Gardens is a vital part of the local economy, accounting for 70% of the general revenue for the smallest LA County.

Where They Stand in the Poker World

With 110 poker tables, Hawaiian Gardens houses a very large poker room (a separate area contains tables for other table games like blackjack), unfortunately, the location and the reputation of the area keeps many high-rollers from heading out to the casino. Because of this, most of the games at Hawaiian Gardens are low and middle limit offerings.

This also puts a damper on major tournament series visiting the casino, as the only major tournament series offered is the Gardens Poker Classic, an on-site tournament series run by the Hawaiian Gardens. The casino does have a solid daily tournament schedule, which you can view here.

Rake is fairly standard for the area, with lower limit games having a $4 max plus $1 jackpot drop.

Rewards Program

Hawaiian Gardens does have a frequent player’s card, but the card offers very few perks. Essentially, the player’s club card is only used to mail you special offers and to enter you into special drawings the casino holds. There are no comp points or other benefits attached to the player’s card—a very strange decision on management’s part.

You can also sign up to receive text messages from the casino, where Hawaiian Gardens will text you tournament information as well as info on the latest promotions and contests taking place at the casino.

Handicapping Their Chances for Online Poker

Hawaiian Gardens signed on to the short-lived COPA (California Online Poker Association) and the casino is also a member of the pro-online gambling California Gaming Association (CGA) so it would appear that they are on board with online poker expansion in the state, although like most casinos they are keeping their cards close to their vest.

Considering their expansion plans (the casino floor will house some 300 gaming tables and there will be room for conference and banquet halls as well), Hawaiian Gardens appears to be pushing the envelope, and that probably means online poker or online gambling is on their to-do list.

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Steve Ruddock

Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including OnlinePokerReport.com, PlayNJ.com, USPoker.com, and USA Today.

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