Artichoke Joe’s Joins Group Of California Cardrooms Opening Outdoors

Posted on September 9, 2020 - Last Updated on September 12, 2020

The operation of California cardrooms is getting more “in tents.” Artichoke Joe’s cardroom in San Bruno is the latest to reopen its “doors” in a giant tent outside.

Players can now visit the makeshift facility to try their hands at their favorite card games. As long as indoor operation remains a non-starter, it’s likely more California cardroom operators will try to make this model a winning hand.

Details on the new accommodations at Artichoke Joe’s cardroom

After getting clearance from the San Mateo County Dept. of Public Health, the cardroom reopened in its new digs last Friday. It’s open around the clock seven days a week, but that’s about all that remains the same as compared to its pre-coronavirus status quo.

On top of running the show in a tent, the number of tables is cut down to just over 30. Additionally, the cardroom restricts how many players can occupy one of those tables at a time.

The cardroom doesn’t allow players to drink alcoholic beverages or smoke while playing as well.

That’s somewhat assumed, however, as players must wear face masks properly while seated at the gaming tables.

In addition, players must pass a body temperature screening to gain admittance.

While there is a dining area open from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m daily, the curbside food pickup only runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The cardroom has moved to protect its employees and guests with plexiglass barriers. Hand sanitizing stations are available throughout the gaming floor.

Cards and chips along with gaming positions are sanitized throughout the day. While the cardroom does not specify that it is testing employees for the virus, it does mention daily symptom screenings.

For the hundreds of employees who are now back to work, there’s a natural incentive to report any symptoms. An outbreak could jeopardize their jobs again.

Still a fragile situation for California cardrooms

For now, operating outdoors is the only option for cardrooms in the state. California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order shuttering indoor operations has been in place since mid-July.

Even the outdoor operation of cardrooms in places like San Bruno is subject to local COVID-19 positivity rates. There’s another risk besides community spread for cardrooms, however.

Other gambling laws require cardrooms in the state to have a set amount of money on hand, including enough to cover the cost of players cashing out their chips. The state is serious about enforcing such laws, as it shut down a cardroom earlier this year for non-compliance.

While those funds are kept separate from cardrooms’ general expense accounts by law, it still requires locations staking themselves in games to maintain enough funds. That means cardrooms like Artichoke Joe’s need to keep the tables full.

After several warnings, Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued the emergency shutdown of the underfunded Magnolia House Casino.

California cardrooms need to do more than just enforce new safety protocols to ensure they remain open.

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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