HAWAIIAN GARDENS, Calif. — Card clubs are open in Los Angeles County for outdoor gaming, which is great news for at least one city government.
The Gardens Casino used to be open 24 hours a day, seven days per week. Now they open at 9 a.m. and close at 2 a.m. every day for a deep clean.
What You Need To Know
- Card clubs are open in L.A. County for outdoor gaming
- After cutting nearly three-quarters of its staff, the Gardens Casino has 45 tables up and running
- Hawaiian Gardens gets more than 70 percent of its revenue from the Gardens Casino and lost nearly $9 million during the months gaming stopped
- City manager Ernie Hernandez says they’ve cut about 40 percent of the city’s workforce and are working on a three-year plan moving forward with a new, reduced budget
Set up in the valet area are 45 tables for table games only, which is not even a quarter of what the Gardens Casino is licensed to operate. But it's a start.
Keith Sharp, the Gardens Casino's general counsel, says they started with about 2,000 employees before COVID-19. Now they’ve got about 600 left.
“It’s going to take some time to get back to any sense of normalcy, even if we were allowed to go back indoors,” said Sharp.
The ripples of devastation extend far beyond the card tables.
The City of Hawaiian Gardens gets more than 70 percent of its revenue from the Gardens Casino and lost nearly half its annual budget during the months gaming stopped — about $9 million.
Hawaiian Gardens City Manager Ernie Hernandez says they’ve cut about 40 percent of the city’s workforce and are working on a three-year plan moving forward with a new, reduced budget. Everything hinges on the casino staying open and getting back to its original capacity in about a year and half.
“I talked to a lot of my former bosses that grew up in this business back in the 1970s," said Hernandez. "There’s just been nothing like it. Nobody’s ever had to deal with a situation like it is right now."
The Gardens Casino originally closed March 15 and then reopened for 12 days in June for modified indoor gaming. It was quickly shut down again until October 5.
This three-year plan for the City of Hawaiian Gardens could change. It was adopted over the summer when the casino looked like it was reopening for good. Hernandez says it will be brought to city council possibly next month. He says he will recommend putting off several maintenance projects so the city can avoid more layoffs and, at the same time, stick with this newly reduced budget.
Although all gaming is outdoors, patrons are allowed inside the casino only to access the cage — to exchange chips for money. The casino was worried putting the cage outside would be too much of a security risk.
The Gardens also has outdoor, portable restrooms and a small area for eating nearby because there is no food or drinks permitted at the tables.