California Gov. Newsom, Citing COVID Spike, Essentially Closes Cardrooms in 19 Counties

Posted on: July 2, 2020, 12:38h. 

Last updated on: July 2, 2020, 11:44h.

On Wednesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) issued an order that required certain business sectors, including cardrooms, to cease indoor operations in 19 counties effective immediately. That comes as the state seeks to control the spread of the coronavirus, and Newsom said he expects the order to last at least three weeks.

California Cardrooms Closed
The plexiglass dividers installed at the Bicycle Casino weren’t enough to allow the Bell Gardens, Calif., casino to remain open for even a couple of weeks. On Wednesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an order banning certain indoor operations, including cardrooms, in 19 counties statewide. (Image: Bicycle Casino)

It comes as the country’s most populous state reported more than 8,100 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. That’s a high-water mark that surpassed Monday’s then-record count by more than 1,000. California has reported nearly 239,000 cases since the emergency began in March. More than 15,000 — or 6.4 percent — have been reported this week.

The 19 counties targeted are:

  • Contra Costa
  • Fresno
  • Glenn
  • Imperial
  • Kern
  • Kings
  • Los Angeles
  • Merced
  • Orange
  • Riverside
  • Sacramento
  • San Bernardino
  • San Joaquin
  • Santa Barbara
  • Santa Clara
  • Solano
  • Stanislaus
  • Tulare
  • Ventura

According to the governor, those counties account for more than 70 percent of the state’s population.

Besides cardrooms, Newsom’s order bans indoor services at such places as restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family arcades, zoos, and museums. The order prohibits bars from operating in any capacity, indoors or out.

“We are doing everything we can to focus in on certain sectors of our economy, where that spread is more to occur, where that spread can be potentially more concentrated, and try to mitigate that spread to the extent we can,” Newsom said.

Cardrooms across the state initially closed in March when Newsom issued an emergency stay-at-home order regarding the coronavirus.

Cardrooms Had Just Reopened

Newsom’s order in essence closed the cardrooms in those 19 counties, and those venues hadn’t even been open for two weeks before getting the call to stop the action again.

That includes the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles County, considered the world’s largest cardroom, with more than 240 tables.

“We will continue to monitor the orders from LA County and the Governor and will let you know as soon as we have a new opening date,” the casino posted on its Twitter account.

When someone asked how many cases were traced back to the casino, Commerce replied zero.

Among other cardrooms that announced they were shutting down for the time being are the Hustler Casino in Gardenia and the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens.

We understand these are challenging times and you may need access to your funds,” the Bicycle Casino tweeted. “To assist our patrons with essential transactions, our cage cashier will remain open this week and by appointment beginning July 4th.”

The closure of the cardrooms in key counties will definitely affect the state’s budget. According to a study commissioned last year by the California Gaming Association, LA County accounted for nearly 13,463 of the 32,425 industry jobs and created $2.3 billion of the sector’s $5.6 billion economic impact.

Tribal Casinos Not Impacted

While cardrooms in select counties will close, Newsom’s order does not affect the tribal casinos within the state. And the governor addressed why in his briefing Wednesday.

“We are working very collaboratively, as we did with the original stay-at-home order, and working with the guidelines that we put forth to allow them to make modifications to their operations so they could reopen in certain counties in the state of California,” Newsom said.

“We are in deep conversations and we’ll be making public the fruits of those efforts to at least get a rationale of understanding between our partners in our sovereign nations and the state of California,” he added.

The tribal casinos began reopening across the state in mid-May, going against Newsom’s wishes. However, as sovereign entities, tribal casinos do not need the state’s permission to reopen. In addition, for many tribes, the casinos provide much-needed revenue to fund essential services, such as medical centers, schools, and housing initiatives.