Governor Newsom: Los Angeles poker rooms can reopen

los angeles poker rooms
Jon Sofen
Posted on: January 28, 2021 05:00 PST

The time has finally come for Los Angeles poker rooms to reopen, but beware that there are some safety restrictions in place. And these restrictions will change the way you're used to playing poker.

California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) has forced many businesses to close in Los Angeles County since COVID-19 struck. He initially required the closure of all non-essential businesses in March. The Democratic governor then allowed most businesses to reopen in June, which included the card rooms.

But as coronavirus cases continued to climb, he again reversed course a few weeks later. Poker rooms in Southern California were only open for two weeks this past summer. They would again reopen in October before being shut down a third time following Thanksgiving weekend. And they've remained that way ever since. Well, not anymore.

As of Wednesday morning, Newsom permitted restaurants in Los Angeles to begin admitting in-person diners for the first time since November. But the restaurants are only allowed to seat guests outside. Many area restaurants set up outdoor tents and makeshift dining rooms to appease the governor.

The same rules apply to the poker rooms, of which Los Angeles has six. Poker tables have been set up outdoors in climate-controlled tents at the local card rooms. That includes Bicycle Casino ("The Bike") and Commerce Casino, the two largest poker rooms in the world, both of which reopened for business Wednesday morning at 8 am.

For the first two days (Wednesday and Thursday), business hours will be limited at these casinos. At The Bike, for example, poker games will only be spread from 8 am until 10 pm on Wednesday and Thursday. The card room will reopen at 8 am Friday and then return to 24 hours of operation.

Each card table will have plexiglass dividers in place, and players are required to wear face coverings at all times. Those who refuse to abide by the mask policy will be removed from the casino.

Coronavirus cases getting out of hand

Los Angeles County has more COVID-19 cases (1,085,044) and deaths (15,592) than any other county in the country by a wide margin. Newsom has faced heavy criticism from political opponents, and even those within his own party, for destroying local businesses with his stringent COVID-19 restrictions.

He's been in a difficult position governing the state with the most coronavirus cases. Under mounting pressure from business owners and political foes, he opted to begin reopening Los Angeles to help save the local economy.

But the damage has already been done. Many local businesses have been forced to shut down permanently due to financial losses caused by the virus and the governor's restrictions. Other businesses, including the card rooms, are struggling to get by.

Newsom forced the poker rooms to close down in March, then in July, and then again in November. We'll see how long he lets them remain in business this time around.

Featured image source: Twitter