California Casinos Holiday Events & Pandemic Protocols

Written By Andrew Champagne on December 7, 2021 - Last Updated on December 9, 2021
California Casino COVID Protocols and Holiday Events

Casinos in California are welcoming back players as 2021 comes to a close. Some casinos had been closed for much of the pandemic and it’s left regular attendees with quite an itch to scratch.

In this column, we’ll focus on key casino events and regulations you’ll need to know about. In general, California is one of the strictest states in the country when it comes to COVID-19 regulations.

These protocols vary widely from county to county, however. The more prepared you are before trying your luck, the less likely you’ll be to experience unwelcome surprises before placing a bet.

Southern California

Los Angeles County has instituted a mask mandate for all events and indoor establishments.

Regardless of vaccination status, every individual must wear a face-covering until certain criteria are met. This includes significant declines in overall cases and hospitalizations and an uptick in the vaccination rate.

This mandate affects visitors of some of L.A.’s most well-known casinos, including the Commerce and Bicycle Casinos. Other properties are implementing additional protocols.

At The Gardens Casino south of L.A., for instance, all players must have club cards to ensure contact tracing.

Mask restrictions are a bit looser in other counties. Per the Pechanga Resort Casino, masks are required for employees of the Temecula property, but merely encouraged for visitors.

At Harrah’s Southern California, masks are required for unvaccinated guests and recommended for all guests.

Northern California

It’s a similar story in the Bay Area. Eight of the area’s most populous counties, including Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara have banded together on certain restrictions, including an indoor mask mandate.

These counties include the cities of Oakland and San Jose. The mask mandate affects several of the state’s most recognizable gambling venues including San Jose’s Bay 101 and the San Pablo Lytton Casino north of Oakland.

Several counties in Northern CA, however, do not have mask mandates. Harrah’s Northern California in Ione is located in Amador County, and it has a similar policy to its San Diego sister property.

Individuals who are not fully vaccinated must wear a mask. While face coverings are recommended for all guests, those who are vaccinated have the option to forego them.

Casino events during the holidays

California has a well-earned reputation for being one of the more cautious states in the country. As a result, many CA casinos have shied away from running many holiday-themed events. However, there are a few events that casino-goers may enjoy during Dec.

Harrah’s Southern California will send 2021 out with a bang at its Mayor’s Millions giveaway on New Year’s Eve. Players will earn entries up to Dec. 31st and $50,000 will be given away each hour beginning at 2 pm. Naturally, you must be present to win the prize.

Meanwhile, it’s not a holiday-centric event, but it’s worth noting that the Bicycle Hotel and Casino is hosting a World Series of Poker Circuit Event this month.

Tournament buy-ins range from $300 for satellites to $3,250 for the high-roller event on Dec. 13th. In addition, the Bike will be hosting nightly turbo tournaments, which can be bought into for $150.

In Northern CA, Cache Creek Casino Resort runs a Random Riches promotion all month long. Players at the casino in Brooks (due west of Sacramento) can win prizes by playing designated penny slot machines each Friday and on Christmas.

Members of the Cache Club will see a vault meter filling up with points as they play. The meter will show how close players are to reaching rewards during the promotion.

Some casinos are rewarding players in other ways as well. Black Oak Casino Resort in Tuolumne, just outside Yellowstone National Park, is giving away frying pans and casserole pots on designated days during Dec. Players must earn 1,500 points before visiting kiosks on Dec. 7th, 9th and 14th, or 16th.

Photo by Tonya Staab /
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Andrew Champagne

Andrew Champagne is a Content Manager at Catena Media, as well as an award-winning writer and producer. A passionate storyteller, Andrew boasts a career that has included stints at The Daily Racing Form, TVG Network, and HRTV. Born and raised in upstate New York, Andrew now resides in Northern California's Bay Area. You can often find him handicapping horse races, planning his next trip to Las Vegas, bowling reasonably well, and golfing incredibly poorly.

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