Los Angeles area card rooms remain closed due to COVID-19, no timetable set for reopening

Los Angeles poker rooms
Jon Sofen
Posted on: August 7, 2020 09:15 PDT

Poker players in Los Angeles are still waiting for a place to play nearby, and they may be waiting for quite some time as coronavirus cases in the Golden State continue to rise.

California now leads the nation in confirmed COVID-19 cases with 542,000, per the CDC. Among those, just over 10,000 in the state have died from the virus. As a result, Gov. Gavin Newsom forced a second closure of many businesses last month, including card rooms. And if the coronavirus trends continue, you can expect those closures to continue for a lengthy period of time.

Thousands of poker dealers and other card room employees in Southern California are now without work. On top of that, numerous area poker pros have lost income due to the global health pandemic.

Los Angeles is home to three of the largest poker rooms in the world — Bicycle Casino (aka, "The Bike"), Commerce Casino, and The Gardens Casino — and three other large card rooms (Hustler Casino, Hollywood Park Casino, and Larry Flynt's Lucky Lady Casino).

Commerce, with 210 poker tables, is the biggest poker room in the world. The Bike (185 tables) and Gardens (184 tables) aren't far behind.

California Governor goes back and forth

Newsom originally ordered the closure of California card rooms in mid-March. Los Angeles county was permitted to reopen the casinos in mid-June. But COVID-19 cases spiked at an alarming rate so he again forced the poker rooms to close a second time just two weeks later.

It's now been over a full month since the second closure, and the players, dealers, and casino staff are unsure when they'll be permitted to return. Newsom, a Democratic governor, has continually said he's more concerned with the safety of his citizens than he is with the financial strain COVID-19 has on the economy.

California leads the nation in coronavirus cases, and Los Angeles county represents nearly 40% of all cases in the state (201,106), and almost 50% of all deaths (4,869). The Sunshine State has averaged around 10,000 new cases per day over the past month.

The popular live-streamed poker show, "Live at the Bike" briefly returned to action last month. But immediately after Newsom forced the casinos to close, the show was again put on hold. Commerce has also been forced to cancel multiple poker events that would have brought in thousands of players. Earlier this week, the popular Los Angeles area card room gave a shout out to its loyal customers.