Casino jumped the gun

A California casino was shut down by the governor for violating the state’s lockdown order just a day after it reopened. The Towers Casino in Grass Valley excitedly announced on its Facebook page that it was open on Monday after being closed for two months. Unfortunately for the casino, it was not supposed to do so and it was forced to shutter once again.

After 62 days of closure TOWERS Card Room is open again!! We’re following the strictest environmental health guidelines…

Posted by Towers Casino on Monday, May 18, 2020

Grass Valley is in Nevada County, about 56 miles northeast of Sacramento. Nevada County does have the state government’s approval to speed up phase 2 of Calfornia’s plan to modify the stay-at-home order, but that applies to restaurants, malls, and childcare facilities, not casinos. Casinos come in the next phase.

Thus, the shutdown order from Governor Gavin Newsom on Towers Casino’s second day back in operation.

Trying to stay safe

The casino emphasized that it was taking strict safety precautions to keep customers and staff safe. There is a sign on the door telling patrons to wash their hands before they play. Employees have also been instructed to sanitize chips after they are exchanged at the cashier, sanitize cup holders after every use, and wipe down table rails whenever a person leaves.

Three of the casino’s six poker tables were in use for cash games. As can be seen in the pictures the casino posted on Facebook, players did don face coverings, from surgical-type masks to cloth masks to bandanas. It does not appear that anyone, including the poker dealer, was wearing gloves.

Governor can’t stop all casinos from opening

Governor Newsom has been battling to try to get people and businesses to adhere to California’s COVID-19 pandemic safety rules. As we reported Tuesday, he has been having some trouble with Native American-operated casinos. While the governor does have the authority to force a venue like Towers Casino to stay closed, he does not have that same pull with tribal casinos. Because their casinos are on sovereign land, they are do not fall under state regulatory control.

Most tribal casinos in California are waiting until at least June 1 to reopen, but three have opened or plan to open this week. Viejas Casino & Resort and Sycuan Casino Resort have already welcomed back gamblers and Valley View Casino is set to open back up on Friday.

All Governor Newsom can do is ask them to stay closed. He can’t make them.

“I understand that some tribal governments are planning on reopening casinos on their lands,” Newsom wrote in a letter to the tribes on Friday. “This deeply concerns me, and I urge tribal governments to reconsider and instead make those determinations based on how they align with the current local public health conditions and the statewide stage of reopening.”

“….in the spirit of sovereign-to-sovereign engagement I respectfully request that until a surrounding or neighboring local jurisdiction has legally progressed into Stage 3, your tribal casinos remain closed,” he said.

While it remains to be seen if reopening any casinos, be they tribal or commercial, is a good idea, the three California casinos are at least implementing safety policies and are not running at full capacity.

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