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L.A. County Cardrooms Move Closer to Opening After Meeting With Dr. Barbara Ferrer


On Monday, September 28, 2020, The California Cities Gaming Authority met with Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health regarding opening cardrooms in outdoor gaming areas.

Los Angeles County Cardrooms are tier 1 businesses which is the most restrictive business activity, currently all tier 1 businesses remain closed.

Dr. Ferrer explained the reason that Los Angeles County has not authorized the opening of any new businesses was due to the Labor Day Holiday weekend activities and the lack of three weeks of monitoring data.

However, the timing is good to revisit the issue of opening cardrooms in outdoor gaming areas.

There is now a collection of three weeks of data since the Labor Day Holiday. The data collected reflects that there was no surge or uptick in CVOID-19 infections. In fact, there was a slight reduction.

That is a “success marker” to Dr. Ferrer who was confident Los Angeles County will stay at a tier 1 and will not dip back to tier 2 agreeing it was an appropriate to discuss opening cardrooms in outdoor gaming areas.

On September 9, 2020, the State of California released the “California Department of Public Health & Cal OSHA, COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Outdoor Operations of Cardrooms” and the “COVID-19 General Checklist for Outdoor Operations of Cardrooms” these guidelines are the minimum standards.

The LACDPH will issue its own health order and protocols which will be more restrictive, fully enforceable, and legally binding having the legal authority to issue citations, fines and close businesses that do not comply with these orders.

Protocols that may be more restrictive than the State guidelines:
1) No food or beverages in the gaming area.
2) Only essential employees who are required to enter the building to complete their work assignments may have access to the building, all patrons may not enter the building.
3) Face masks must be worn at all times.
4) There will be no arbitrary cap on the number of gaming tables. All gaming tables must adhere to 6 feet of social distancing. The only limit on table numbers would be the amount of space available.
5) Three sides of the tent must remain open to maximize air circulation, the remaining fourth side may be covered or may be a side of a building.
6) Cardrooms will be required to report all COVID-19 outbreaks, which is three or more employees testing positive.

The process for opening cardroom outdoor gaming areas will be determined by the Board of Supervisors, who also can dictate which businesses will reopen.

The LACDPH will draft a Health Order and Protocols which will take at least two days to finish and will include the sequencing of business openings.

Dr. Ferrer expressed her concern for the cardroom employees. “Workers need protections and studies have shown that non-unionized workers have been hardest hit by COVID-19. Players have a choice on whether to go to a card club and which Card Club to play in, an employee does not.”

“We plan to work collaboratively with the Dr. Ferrer and her staff to open outdoor gaming areas at our city’s cardroom facilities,” said California Cities Gaming Authority Chair and Gardena Mayor Tasha Cerda.

“It is in everyone’s interest to open and operate our outdoor gaming areas safely, adhere to social distancing and all COVID-19 health and safety mandates and protocols as well as fire, public safety and building code requirements. Our cities are committed to partner with the LACDPH to ensure our cardrooms operators are adhering to all the protocols.”

“Dr. Ferrer was very compassionate towards the hundreds of employees furloughed at the Card Clubs due to the COVID-19 closures,” said California Cities Gaming Authority Vice President and Inglewood City Council Member Ralph Franklin.

“She understands that behind every worker are families that depend on their income. She also was sympathetic to the Cities on the substantial amount of revenue being lost that would otherwise be used for vital public safety services such as paramedics, police and fire. On behalf of the six cities in L. A. County, that have Card Clubs, we thank Dr. Ferrer for her consideration, time and leadership to address our concerns to re-open Card Clubs keeping public safety as a top priority.”


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