San Jose Casinos Approved for Outdoor Operations

  • Bay 101 and Casino M8trix will offer outdoor gaming services after city council approval
  • Only one councilmember voted against the change
  • San Jose casino tax revenue is predicted to be 29% lower than originally expected pre-pandemic
  • Venues must follow CDC guidelines as games are moved outdoors  
aerial view of downtown San Jose, California
San Jose casinos can now offer outdoor gambling after earning city council approval. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Gaming outdoors

San Jose casinos have been given the green light by lawmakers to operate outdoors. Bay 101 and Casino M8trix can now use outside space to entertain guests, reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread. The city council met on September 1 and approved the move, with a goal of bringing in much-needed tax revenue for the San Jose budget.

10-1 in support of outdoor casino services

City council members voted 10-1 in support of outdoor casino services. The only person to vote against was Councilmember Maya Esparaza.

Getting back to work

After being closed for almost six months, San Jose casinos are ready to reopen. Vice president of Casino M8trix, Robert Lindo, said that his venue is eager to get started and will offer a safe outdoor space. Lindo pointed out that anything the casino can do to get its employees back to work as well as generate revenue for the city and provide options for patrons would be “spectacular”.

This year, taxes from casinos were expected to bring in around $18.9 million for the city. That number dropped to $13.5 million, however, once the pandemic closures took place. Councilmember Raul Peralez said:

The more months they go out of service, the less [tax revenue] we will be able to generate.”

Moving forward

Based on CDC recommendations, casinos are discouraged from allowing eating at tables and players should stay six feet apart. Businesses are encouraged to add sneeze guards with plexiglass between players and the cash registers so that everyone can stay safe from the virus.

Bay 101 vice president Ron Werner commented on the outdoor services, stating that with the reopening, there will likely be restrictions on how many players can take part in gaming. Face mask requirements and cleaning protocols will also be in place.

Councilmember Johnny Khamis wants to see the casinos work with local police to ensure security checks are in place and regulations are followed before outdoor services get started.

In the past, the Californian city has charged a fee for businesses to use outdoor public spaces. With a new outdoor business initiative titled San Jose Al Fresco, lawmakers decided to waive these fees so that it will be easier for businesses to operate outside during the pandemic.

Open, then closed again

Casinos and card rooms in California were originally shut down by Governor Newsom back in March along with a stay-at-home order because of COVID-19. They reopened in late June only to be shut down again in early July as the state saw a massive virus spike.

A total of 19 counties were affected by the second closure, including Santa Clara, the county where the San Jose casinos are located.

While the commercial venues had to shut down, tribal gaming operators could remain open. The tribes are not affected by government orders as they are located on sovereign land.