California Casino Shuttered After Defying Closure Order

  • The Towers Casino in Grass Valley, California opened its card room on Monday
  • Commercial casinos are required to remain closed per the governor's public order during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Governor Gavin Newsom issued an order on Tuesday to close down the Towers Casino
Poker player looking at hole cards
The Towers Casino in California began hosting card games on Monday, but was forced to shut down a day later as state health orders require casinos to remain closed. [Image: Shutterstock]

Shut down the next day

The Towers Casino in Grass Valley, California was open for card games on Monday despite the state order forbidding them from doing so. The very next day, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an order for the venue to shut down its operations, according to the facility’s employees.

It is unclear if further action will be taken by the authorities against the owners of this casino. 

In the six-table poker room, there were three tables open for cash games. The Monday reopening of the card room was announced through the casino’s social media, with an image of one of its games making its way onto Twitter:

Disregarding state orders

While California’s Nevada County was given approval to move more quickly through phase two of the state’s reopening plans, the permission does not cover casinos such as Towers Casino. Thus, the reason for the forced closure.

Phase two only covers malls, dine-in restaurants, and child care centers once certain guidelines are followed. There are four phases in total as part of the state’s reopening plan, with the likes of card rooms and casinos able to open in phase three. There is no clear indication yet of when phase three will be launched.

it must adhere to the rules of the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Gambling Control

Towers Casino is not a tribal facility and is licensed by the California Gambling Control Commission. Therefore, it must adhere to the rules of the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Gambling Control.

Tribal casinos exempt

There are some tribal casinos in the state that are ready to open for business. Governor Newsom urged these tribal facilities to remain closed, but acknowledged that they do have the right to open. This is because they are on sovereign land, making them exempt from local and state government orders. 

Most tribal facilities are planning to stay closed until June. Three casinos, however, are all reopening this week. The Viejas Casino and Resort opened on Monday, the Sycuan Casino Resort welcomed customers on Wednesday, and the Valley View Casino will open up on Friday.

Health and safety policies

While Towers Casino has posted signs informing patrons of sanitizing policies and it is evident in the above photo that the players are all wearing masks, it does not appear that there was much social distancing at the poker table.

Some locals were happy that the facility had reopened. Kindra Nelson told Sacramento’s CBS13:

I’d feel safe going anywhere and if I don’t I’d wear a mask and gloves.”

As per the Towers Casino website, all workers are to follow strict health and safety guidelines. This includes sanitizing all chips once they have been cashed in, as well as regularly sanitizing cup holders and the railings of the table games after each person has left the table. 

Major casino companies have been publishing their own extensive health and safety plans for reopening. MGM Resorts International, for instance, has a seven-point plan, and both Las Vegas Sands and Caesars Entertainment have also released their new protocols in recent weeks.