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Mayors Ask Board of Supervisors to Help Open Cardrooms

the gardens casino

The Gardens Casino in Hawaiian Gardens

 

Some cardrooms in other California counties have been  allowed to open in outdoor facilities under restrictions.

BY BRIAN HEWS

Following all California Department of Public Health protocols to stop the spread of COVID-19, mayors from five cities including Bell Gardens, Commerce, Gardena and Hawaiian Gardens, proposed during a press conference last Monday to establish gambling operations in outdoor facilities.

L.A. County still has not given permission to reopen cardrooms outdoors despite approval by the state – which carried restrictions – since Sept. 9.

The mayors called on the Board of Supervisors to help them open outdoor facilities facilitated by LA County Department of Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer.

But sources have told Hews Media Group -Cerritos News that in a meeting with Ferrer and cardroom owners on Saturday Sept. 12, two days before the press conference, they had asked Dr. Ferrer to grant permission.

Her response was “I did not know you wanted to open outdoors,” which surprised some of the owners. But Dr. Ferrer insisted she wanted to wait for the Labor Day case surge to pan out.

The issue has become urgent with some cardrooms representing over 50% of city revenues.

Hawaiian Gardens has lost $9 million in tax revenue from the Gardens Casino being closed; The cardroom represents 70% of the City’s budget.

Bell Gardens has lost $8 million in tax revenue from the Bicycle Casino being closed; The cardroom represents nearly 50% of the City’s budget.

Gardena has lost $4.9 million in tax revenue so far as their cardrooms and their city’s largest employers, Lucky Lady & Hustler Casinos, remain closed.

Mayors present represented the three largest cardrooms in the state, Commerce, The Gardens Casino, and Bicycle Casino while some represented the smaller cardrooms including the Hustler and the Lucky Lady Casinos in Gardena; the Crystal Casino in Compton; and the Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood.

Some smaller cardrooms have had success in opening outdoors but have hit their maximum permitted tables or have run out of outdoor space.

The San Mateo Daily Journal reported that Artichoke Jones Casino, limited by the operations allowed during quarantine, took a risk and ordered a 13,000-square-foot tent to hold a makeshift, outdoor card room.

Owners were heartened to see a line of patrons ready to start playing when Artichoke Joe’s opened into its parking lot.

The cardroom has “been doing very good” with no reported cases of workers or guests contracting coronavirus.

Artichoke Jones was able to place 38 tables under the tent the cardroom is permitted for 51 tables and county public health has put no restrictions on the number of tables they can operate.

Other smaller cardrooms that have opened outdoors are the Bay 101 Casino with 38 tables and M8trix with 38 tables, both are located in San Jose with permits for 49 tables.

In Oceanside, the Ocean’s 11, with 50 table permits, is operating 32 tables.

In Bakersfield, the Golden West Casino is permitted for 45 tables and is operating 15 outdoors.

Locally, Commerce has 275 tables, The Gardens Casino has 225 tables, Bicycle 190,  Inglewood 105, Compton 42, Hustler 41, and Luck Lady 41.

It would take a monumental effort for the big three, but for the others, absent any land issues, an outdoor facility is a distinct possibility.

Gardena Mayor and California Cities Gaming Authority Chair Tasha Cerda, who represents the smaller cardrooms in the state told HMG-CN, “I hope we were successful at informing the public that small to medium size cardrooms should be allowed to open outdoors. They can be successful at following the recommended guidelines that the county health department suggests.”

Supervisor Hahn told HMG-CN, “We learned that we reopened too quickly last time, so this time we are taking a few weeks between reopening to monitor the impact on our case numbers. I am very worried about the toll the closure of card rooms is taking on the cities that depend on them for revenue and the thousands of workers who are out of jobs.  But the fact is there are still too many people sick and dying of this virus. We need to follow the advice of our public health experts to save lives and they are saying it is not the time to reopen card rooms.”

 

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