California Card Rooms Creating Reopening Plans

California Governor Gavin Newsom has taken a hard stance when it comes to fighting the coronavirus pandemic, and many of the nonessential businesses remain closed. That included card rooms throughout the state, but leaders of that industry have started to develop reopening plans.

While Newsom has yet to indicate that card rooms will be allowed to reopen anytime soon, executives are meeting to create the appropriate safeguards that will be needed. Card rooms have been closed for over two months, and there is hope that they will be allowed to open in June.

There were 66 card rooms in operation at the time that the pandemic hit, and all 66 of these locations voluntarily shut their doors to stop the spread. The California Gaming Association (CGA) is hoping that they could open their doors in a way that would still maintain the health and safety of both customers and employees.

Safety will be at the forefront of any reopening plan, and the CGA is following the approach that casinos in other states have followed. They have discussed several different protocols to implement, and they are working closely with state and local health organizations.

Some of the new safety protocols discussed include that all card rooms must limit occupancy to ensure social distancing takes place. Another major part of this plan calls for testing of all guests and employees, and for that information to be used in contact tracing.

Card rooms would have to step up their cleaning and sanitation practices to keep everyone safe. Cards, chips, and cash would have to be cleaned regularly, and there would be a limit about who would be able to handle each of these items.

Governor Newsom has outlined a reopening plan, and it appears that card rooms will be able to open during phase three of the plan. As the Coronavirus continues to affect the entire state, there is no set date for when the state will move into phase three.

There are more than 32,000 employees that work at the card rooms throughout the state, and almost all of those workers are now unemployed. Shutting down card rooms has also had a major effect on the economy as many small communities rely on tax revenue to fund several programs.

Tribal Casinos Begin to Reopen

Tribal casinos in the state do not have to follow the orders from Newsom, and a few casinos have already opened back up. Governor Newsom has reached out to several tribes to keep their businesses closed, but several have gone ahead and reopened.

Win-River Resort in San Diego was the first tribal casino to reopen, as they let customers back in their building over the weekend. Win-River implemented several new health and safety protocols into their plans, but the Governor was still unhappy that they moved forward with their plan.

A pair of other tribal casinos located in the San Diego region opened up on Monday, with safeguards in place. The two locations were the Viejas Casino and Resort, and Jamul Casino. Local officials in San Diego are mostly pleased that the casinos have reopened, but there are still health and safety concerns.

All of the casinos are requiring both workers and guests to wear face masks when they are inside of the building. Guests and workers must also have their temperature checked before entering, and anyone with a fever will be turned away. Social distancing measures are in place, and casinos have limited the number of guests that are allowed.


Logan is based in Los Angeles and is an avid poker player having played in tournaments across the globe. He covers both poker & regulatory affairs.