Cardrooms in California Begin Closing Again

The state of California has once again started to see a surge in positive cases of the coronavirus, and that has forced Governor Gavin Newsom to issue an executive order. Newsom has ordered certain businesses in 19 different counties to cease operations to stop the rapid spread of the disease.

One of the business sectors that has been ordered to close is cardrooms in these 19 counties. Cardrooms are similar to commercial casinos found in other states, but they offer a limited number of gaming opportunities to their customers.

The order is expected to last at least three weeks, a huge blow to cardrooms that just started to reopen throughout the state. The state saw more than 8,000 new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, smashing their previous record high.

Not only are cardrooms forced to shut down, but several other businesses that serve guests indoors must shut down as well. These businesses included: movie theaters, restaurants, wineries, arcades, museums, and zoos.

Bars are also now prohibited from serving guests both inside and out, and this is a reaction to the recent surge in cases from customers that have visited bars across the country. Florida has also issued a similar ban, prohibiting bars from serving alcohol to their guests.

Cardrooms across California were shut down in mid-March when Governor Newsom issued an executive order closing nonessential businesses. These cardrooms have been open less than two weeks and now must close their doors again.

The Commerce Casino in Los Angeles County is one of the cardrooms that must shut their doors for a second time. The Commerce Casino is the biggest cardroom in California, featuring more than 240 different table games.

California was already staring at a massive budget deficit for the next fiscal year, and that can be traced back to the initial closures. Shutting down cardrooms for a second time will only further complicate the issue, but Governor Newsom believed that it had to be done.

Lawmakers in California tried to pass a new sports betting bill earlier this year in hopes of bringing in new tax revenue for the state. Tribal casinos voiced strong opposition to the measure, and the bill eventually died out.

According to the California Gaming Association, LA county accounted for more than $2.3 billion of the state’s $5.6 billion economic impact. The closure of cardrooms will also further complicate the unemployment rates in California, as many employees will now be out of work for the second time this year.

Tribal Casinos Remain Open

Even though cardrooms in several counties have begun to close, tribal casinos will remain open throughout the state. Tribal casinos do not have to follow orders from the state government, but Governor Newsom is hoping to work with each of them.

Newsom has to be careful when dealing with tribal nations as he can’t enforce any laws upon them. His staff is meeting independently with tribal leaders to reach a conclusion that ensures public health and safety.

Tribal casinos began reopening their doors during May, and they did so much earlier than Governor Newsom wanted. Newsom was hoping that the sovereign nations would stay closed into June, but several tribes could not afford to stay closed.

Most of the tribes in the state of California use the money generated from their casinos to fund projects throughout the state. Tribal casinos were almost forced to reopen to keep the economy on the reservation up and running.

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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.