Leaders of Los Angeles County cities that rely heavily on revenue from their gambling halls have asked the county Board of Supervisors to allow gambling establishments to remain open with safety precautions.
All seven Los Angeles County arcades were forced to close Monday when new health measures went into effect aimed at aborting a recent surge in new Covid-19 cases in the area. If they are not allowed to resume operations, the facility could be closed for at least three weeks.
However, city administrators and mayors of Hawaiian Gardens, City of Commerce and Bell Gardens gathered Monday in the empty game room of the Commerce Casino to ask Los Angeles County supervisors to revoke the ban on outdoor gaming.
A similar move worked a couple of months ago when some city leaders tried to reason with county supervisors and were successful.
In September, some of the same city leaders spoke to the Board of Supervisors asking for permission to reopen gambling halls in their cities. The establishments had been closed for months at the time. County officials voted to allow the facilities to resume outdoor operations on October 5. However, game rooms were not allowed to serve food and drinks and were issued a set of security protocols to follow.
The arcades were ordered to close once again less than two months after they reopened and city leaders expressed concern that this would be harmful for your already reduced income.
Pandemic Slashed Los Angeles County Revenue
Hawaiian Gardens, which derives more than 70% of its revenue from its Gardens Casino, was forced to lay off 40% of the city’s staff in the months following the pandemic and the closure of its arcade. City Manager Ernie Hernandez said they will have to cut essential services if “these closures continue,” including “the basic government services of which the people depend for quality of life. “
Bell Gardens Mayor Alejandra Cortez said the city has lost almost half of their income since The Bicycle Casino closed. The arcade has long been Bell Gardens’ largest employer. Mayor Cortez also criticized the Board of Supervisors and the Department of Public Health for not including county casinos and cities in the discussions that led to the new wave of measures and closures.
He said he also fears his city will have to lay off more staff and reduce city services as a result of the closure of its arcade.
Gardens Casino General Counsel Keith Sharp noted that the county’s seven gambling halls collectively spent millions of dollars to set up outdoor tents and equip them with air conditioning and other infrastructure, as well as to install Plexiglas partitions on the gaming tables. He went on to say that the county should have already devised a “More nuanced way” to deal with the coronavirus pandemic that closes them across the county.