Cali Card Room Closures Create More Local Financial Strain
Card rooms in Los Angeles County, California are shut down a second time due to COVID-19 cases, leaving communities struggling to survive.
Across the United States, positive COVID-19 cases are increasing. Higher numbers are causing lawmakers to decide to shut down businesses yet again. In California, Los Angeles County has been hit particularly hard. This area is home to several card rooms, casino style facilities that offer poker gaming. Because the new case count is so high, the venues have been shuttered for at least three weeks, placing more financial strain on local communities.
Shut Down a Second Time
In LA County, there were over 7,500 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday. This was the latest record daily high and shows that the county is in need of a strict stay at home directive. With the new orders, all local card rooms are to close completely along with kid’s playgrounds. The area is also restricted when it comes to restaurant dining. No in-person dining is allowed at this time.
Hawaiian Gardens, Bell Gardens and Commerce are communities that rely on card rooms for employment as well as revenues. The Commerce Casino, Bicycle, Hollywood Park and The Gardens have all been forced to close, which means thousands of people are now unemployed, at least for the time being.
Ivan Altamirano is the mayor of Commerce who stated that already, the area has lost $13 million. The loss impacts the safety of the public as well as community programs. The casinos need to be up and running so that revenues can come in to support the town.
The second round of closures for the card rooms comes just under two months after the businesses were allowed to reopen. The card rooms were closed for six months and just reopened in October, only allowed to offer services outside due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The casinos in Los Angeles County provide employment for over 10,000 people. Many of these individuals have been out of work for months and will remain out of work. Statewide, California has an unemployment rate of 9.3% based on October totals. The jobless rates are some of the highest in the country.
Right before this recent closure, the card rooms were hit with a curfew set by Governor Gavin Newsom. Residents in California are to stay home from 10 pm to 5 am. Only essential employees are allowed to go out during these times. This curfew affected the casinos in a negative manner because they rely on nighttime business for the bulk of their revenues.
Early on during the pandemic, the card rooms tried to receive help from the government via the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. The card rooms had trouble receiving funds and have went for months without assistance.
With unemployment in the region at an all-time high and the card rooms unable to offer services at this time, the entire county is suffering. People who are out of work need help to pay bills while cities are facing severe financial strain due to the loss of millions in tax payments.
Bell Gardens is one area greatly affected by the closures. The Bicycle Casino is located in this area. The venue provides over $15 million of the general fund for the city. This is around 46% of the fund. If the gaming property continues to be closed, the town will lose millions in assistance.
Alejandra Cortez is the Mayor of Bell Gardens, who reported earlier in the year that some members of the police force have been let go and salaries reduced for employees of the city to try and deal with the shortfall in revenues.
If something doesn’t change soon, the towns could be at risk of bankruptcy or even more cuts to try and make ends meet while the gambling revenues are not coming in.