Cerritos News _______________________________________ RATES _______________________________________ ST. NORBERT OC

Socialize

Some California Casinos and Cardrooms Could Open by June 12

BY BRIAN HEWS

The California Gambling Control Commission (Commission), with guidance from the Department of Health, has issued reopening guidelines for cardrooms and casinos with a notification of intent to release the emergency regulations related to the COVID-19 closures, according to a letter sent to casino owners and obtained by Hews Media Group.

According to the letter, the Commission “worked with multiple agencies” to finalize the guidelines released for the industry, with that, Gov. Newsom recommended an effective opening date of June 12, 2020.

But the guidelines do not allow for a complete reopening of cardrooms across the state.

The letter stated, “a cardroom cannot reopen until 1) the county which the cardroom resides has provided certification that it has met criteria set forth by the California Department of Public Health, 2) the county’s attestation has been approved by the State, and 3) the county has permitted the cardroom to open per County Public Health rules.

The criteria include a review of local epidemiological data including cases per 100,000 population, rate of test positivity, local preparedness to support a health care surge, vulnerable populations, contact tracing, and testing.

But ultimately the ability to reopen will come from each county’s Department of Health, and with the state dragging their feet that could take another few weeks.

California Cities Gaming Authority Chair and Gardena Mayor Tasha Cerda was not happy with the Commission’s plan, “I think the rules and regulations the Gambling Control Commission are trying to implement are too strict. Public safety is definitely a priority, but the rules and guidelines seem like they are geared to slow the game down and not encourage patrons to play at California cardrooms. Whereas tribes have already opened for business and appear not to be adhering to many of these rules.  Also, the guidelines do not differentiate from small, medium or large cardrooms. One size does not fit all. The California Cities Gaming Authority has been advocating for our small and medium cardrooms. These are mom and pop businesses, and they hurting, along with their employees and vendors. They should have been opened when the Governor allowed the restaurants to open.  We want our cardrooms open now.”

In late May, six card clubs sent a reopening proposal to Newsom; that included the Gardens Casino in Hawaiian Gardens, the Bicycle Club in Bell Gardens, the Commerce Casino in Commerce, Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Hustler, and Crystal Casinos.

The clubs proposed a comprehensive 20-page Health and Sanitation program developed after consulting all available information and guidance from the CDC and state and local public health agencies and in collaboration with medical experts from UCLA and USC.

The plan included:

  • Frequent cleaning and sanitizing of all areas with increased focus on high touch areas including the chairs and gaming tables with those areas wiped with a sanitizing wipe before and after each player sits down.
  • Enhanced air filtration to filter out virus particulates.
  • Hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes will be required prior to entering and upon exiting a gaming table and all tables will be wiped when a player exits.
  • Signage regarding the proper health precautions reminding everyone to wash/sanitize their hands and practice physical distancing including elevators; markers will designate where to stand when queueing.
  • Cards, chips and other gaming equipment will be cleaned and sanitized or disposed of when they are returned from a gaming table and employees will sanitize shared gaming areas on a regular and frequent basis.
  • All administrative areas will follow the health and sanitizing protocols.
  • Physical barriers will be utilized in areas where six feet of social distancing is not feasible. Valet services, transportation services and banquet services have been suspended. Food and beverage services will follow the state’s guidelines for restaurants.
  • Finally, all employees will be trained on the mandatory cleaning and sanitizing protocols, on the proper donning, use and disposal of PPE, and how to recognize and report any concerns regarding individuals who may be exhibiting symptoms.

The plan could have been the impetus for Newsom to grant a reopening date, which will be a boost to the state’s economy and could not come any sooner for the casinos, cardrooms, cities, and employees who work for those organizations.

Juan Garza, Bellflower Mayor and executive director of the California Cities for Self Reliance that advocates for L.A. County casinos told HMG-LCCN, “We are grateful for Governor Newsom’s vote of confidence that our cardrooms in Los Angeles County can re-open safely.  We are working closely with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to safely get our over 10,000 hard-working employees in Los Angeles County back to work, and to safely re-start these local economic engines that benefit our member cities and so many other cities in our region.”

The March closures cost over 10,000 jobs and millions in tax revenue and philanthropic dollars in the L.A. area.

According to a study by the California Gaming Association,card rooms statewide generated $1.6 billion in wages and benefits, accounted for over 32,000 jobs and $500 million in state and local taxes, and contributed more than $2 billion in economic benefits.

In Hawaiian Gardens alone, the Gardens Casino contributes over $1 million per month, 74% of the city’s revenue; the city of Bell Gardens generates approximately $13 million from their partnership with the Bicycle Hotel & Casino, which is 44% of the General Fund; Commerce City Manager Edgar Cisneros recently told HMG-LCCN that the Commerce Casino generates over $2 million per month for the city.

The City of Gardena is losing approximately $800,000 in direct revenue from its card room and $10,000 a month in sales tax revenue.  In Inglewood, the city is losing $500,000 a month in revenue generated from Hollywood Park Casino.

Keith Sharp, general counsel for the Gardens Casino was optimistic about reopening soon, “Governor Newsom again exhibited his strong leadership throughout this pandemic by issuing a comprehensive and thoughtful set of card room reopening guidelines. The health and sanitation plan developed and submitted by the LA County card rooms aligns with these guidelines and we are hopeful that LA County will permit our card rooms to now reopen. We are fully prepared to do so and to resume supporting our local communities which have been so severely devastated by the financial losses caused by this pandemic.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

comments

Powered by Facebook Comments

22 Responses to Some California Casinos and Cardrooms Could Open by June 12