LA County Card Rooms Close Monday to Combat COVID-19 Surge, Local Communities Feel the Pressure

Posted on: November 28, 2020, 01:21h. 

Last updated on: November 28, 2020, 05:43h.

Card rooms in Los Angeles County will shutter from Monday amid an alarming surge in coronavirus cases in the most populous county in the US.

California card rooms
The Gardens Casino in Hawaiian Gardens, LA County, provides the local community with 70 percent of its funding. (Image: KCRW)

The county has been averaging more than 4,700 new cases per day, the highest rate ever. The state reported a total of one million cases last week, making it the second state to do so after Texas.

County officials on Friday announced a three-week “Safer at Home” order, prohibiting residents from different households mingling and limiting non-essential retail to just 20 percent capacity. Large gatherings are banned, except for church services and protests, which are protected by the Constitution.

Thousands Jobless

There’s no exception for the county’s seven card rooms, though, which include some of California’s biggest — the Commerce, Hollywood Park, the Bicycle, and the Gardens. Collectively, the county’s card rooms employ more than 10,000 people.

The closings are a body blow for the venues and the communities in which they are located. The cardrooms were only recently allowed to reopen on October 5 after six months of lockdown, and only then provided games were hosted in the open air.

Last week, they were operating under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s curfew from 10pm to 5am — a grueling restriction for card clubs, which generate a big slice of their revenues after dark.

Many of the towns that host the card rooms are small, working class communities that are wholly dependent on the revenue gaming brings. Hawaiian Gardens, for example, receives more than 70 percent of its funding from the Gardens Casino.

Gardens employs nearly 2,000 people in the local community, and they’ve been out of work for most of the year.

On Wednesday 250 families in Los Angeles County’s smallest city picked up Thanksgiving meals from the New Hope Community Church, courtesy of the LA Mission, Spectrum News reported.

The need right now, because of the closure of the casino, a lot of members of the community have lost their jobs and even the city cannot really provide some resources to the families,” said the church’s outreach coordinator, Dandy DePaula.

Las Vegas Impact

The Stay-at-Home order will have a knock-on effect, too, for the Las Vegas casino sector, which has relied on automobile traffic from California to offset the plunge in air traffic that normally feeds the city’s tourism sector.

Las Vegas Strip casinos have dropped their room rates in a bid to keep the flow of Golden State customers coming, a move which has been blamed for an uptick in crime.

“With drive-to business driving the majority of Strip revenues right now, increasing California restrictions/quarantines are a real risk for Strip operators — especially in a seasonally slower time of year,” Barry Jonas, Truist Securities analyst, told FOX Business.