San Jose card rooms prepare to reopen in outdoor tents

Lady Luck is changing spaces in San Jose. Wednesday, state regulators inspected tents in the parking lots at the Bay 101 and Casino M8trix cardrooms. This, as executives prepare to move indoor operations outside.

“Well, we’re very excited. We’ve been closed essentially since March 13. We have nearly 700 employees,” said Robert Lindo, vice president at Casino M8trix.

He said his 49 tables have lost more than $1 million a month in revenue since the COVID-19 fueled shutdown in March.

Early Wednesday morning at the end of a marathon city council meeting, leaders amended emergency Alfresco waivers. The change will allow the two indoor gaming venues to operate outside, similar to restaurants. A similar move was made in Citrus Heights, near Sacramento.

“They do help with employment. They do help with a lot of the tax revenues that go into our general fund, which funds everything from libraries to parks,” said Councilmember Johnny Khamis, who represents San Jose’s 10th District.

The city depends heavily on the millions of dollars in tax revenue from the cardrooms, according to Khamis.

M8trix officials say they’ll put a little more than half their tables under tents, and will initially bring back half their employees. Experts say the move can provide a shot in the arm for the beleaguered gaming industry.

“There’s a lot of people who want to get out of the house and play,” said Dr. Robert Chapman Wood, a professor of strategic management at San Jose State University. “The whole challenge is to get enough of the economy rolling so that as other pieces continue to decline, ah, we don’t fall into a depression.”

Card room executives are working with city and state regulators, and with the police department to insure safety and security.

“The area is fenced off. But there will also be appropriate barricades to prevent people from driving up too close to the area,” said Lindo.

Lindo also says there will be partitions separating players at the tables. Masks are required for gamers, with dealers wearing gloves and using touchless thermometers to check temperatures. As to when the games of chance might resume, perhaps a week or two after Labor Day.