Casinos can now join local businesses that are allowed to operate outdoors and have the potential to restore much-needed tax revenue to a difficult budget in San Jose.
San Jose’s two card rooms, Bay 101 and Casino M8trix, will now follow other open-plan California casinos and entertain guests outdoors. The setup would give the casinos space to house customers under huge tents and minimize the risk of COVID-19.
The plan to reopen casinos outside of the country was passed 10: 1 on September 1, with councilor Maya Esparza casting the only vote against.
Robert Lindo, vice president of Casino M8trix, said the casino is aiming to open in a safe, outdoor environment after almost six months of closure.
“Anything Casino M8trix can do to get our people back to work safely, generate much-needed tax revenue for the city of San Jose, and provide outdoor entertainment and food and drink for our fantastic customers would be spectacular,” he said Lindo said.
Prior to COVID-19, San Jose card room taxes should bring in $ 18.9 million, but that number dropped to $ 13.5 million after casinos closed after orders for accommodations.
“The more months they are out of service, the less (tax revenue) we can generate,” said Councilor Raul Peralez.
The CDC recommends casinos avoid eating at tables and keep players three feet apart. It also encourages companies to install sneeze guards between players and at cash registers between customers and employees.
“With social distancing and all the necessary COVID-19 requirements, indoor gaming would be reduced,” said Ron Werner, Vice President of Bay 101. “In all fairness, we don’t know what it will look like until we see how customers react . “
Werner said there will likely be restrictions on the number of players, the glass shields between players and dealers, cleaning requirements, and face mask requirements.
The move comes when San Jose tries to raise taxes on card rooms. The city council last month approved the preparation of an electoral measure to increase gaming taxes from 15% to 16.5% and to increase the number of tables in each casino by 15.
Councilor Johnny Khamis said casinos need to work with police to ensure proper regulations and security checks are in place before they reopen outdoors.
“The card rooms have to spend a lot of money to create a system of cameras and checks and balances outdoors,” said Khamis. “But if you are willing to spend all that money on it, you should be open.”
The county’s health ordinance allows businesses such as restaurants, hair salons, and gyms to work outdoors. Card rooms were not previously included in this list.
As part of San Jose Al Fresco, the city’s outdoor business initiative, lawmakers earlier this month waived fees for using outdoor public spaces, making it easier for businesses to open during the pandemic.
“I just want to treat these deals fairly,” Khamis told San José Spotlight. “They bring a lot of income to our city – income that we will need for the future because a lot of the other income is not coming in either.”
Contact Carly Wipf at [email protected] or follow @CarlyChristineW on Twitter.