Los Angeles County Card Rooms Shutdown as COVID-19 Cases Increase

A resurgence of COVID-19 cases across the United States has led to shutdowns in several business sectors, but mainly the non-essential variety. Businesses that are considered non-essential are shutting down yet again to try and slow the spread of the virus. In Los Angeles County California, a huge surge in positive cases has led to the closure of businesses, including local card rooms. Poker will be on hold for quite some time until the case counts go down.

Highest Rate Ever

For Los Angeles County, the region recently hit its highest rate ever for daily cases at over 4,700. Just a few days ago, the county saw over one million cases in one week. This is only the second state to have reached this massive amount in seven days since the virus began.

Last Friday, officials in LA County announced that a three-week Safer at Home order would begin on Monday November 30. The order prohibits residents from getting together with others outside of their household. It also limits non-essential retail to just 20% capacity. Large gatherings cannot take place unless they are church gatherings or protests. This is because the constitution allows for such gatherings.

In LA County, there are seven card rooms that offer poker gaming. All of these venues are shut down. This includes the Gardens, the Bicycle, Commerce and Hollywood Park. Within these venues, over 10,000 people are employed. The closings mean that this group of people will no longer be able to work, at least for a few weeks.

The closings come at a time when the card rooms just reopened. After six months of lockdown, the card rooms in LA County were allowed to open back up on October 5. At that time, games were only allowed to take place in open air spaces.

Then, before Thanksgiving week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a curfew for the county from 10pm through 5am. Card rooms rely on operations in the evening hours, so this was yet another blow before the closure took place.

Major Local Effect

Most of the towns in LA County rely on employment from card rooms or revenues the venues provided. Hawaiian Gardens relies heavily on the Gardens Casino. The property provides over 70% of the funding used in the town. With a closure, this will be a big hit to the budget.

The Gardens also provides employment for around 2,000 locally. When you consider how many months the employees have been out of work, it has been almost a year-long process. The local communities are struggling and need help. Before Thanksgiving, the LA Mission provided meals for around 250 families to help with food needs.

The New Hope Community Church provided the meals as a way to assist the locals who needed help. According to Dandy DePaula, the outreach coordinator of the church, the need right now is due to the casino closures and the city is having trouble providing resources to families.

The struggle will continue for quite some time as the positive coronavirus cases continue. If the new shut down order helps to slow the spread, officials might decide to reopen the card rooms and allow businesses to get back work. Only time will tell how the order affects positive cases.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.