By Kiet Do

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Work was underway Wednesday at San Jose’s two cardrooms, Bay 101 and Casino M8trix, to prepare for outdoor operations.

At Bay 101, crews were seen erecting a large, white vinyl tent directly adjacent to the main building, to house dozens of playing tables with clear plastic partitions. Electricians spent the day wiring multiple surveillance cameras above.

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At Casino M8trix, also underneath a white tent, the carpeted flooring was illuminated by chandelier lights above. The length of the tent was estimated to be at least half the length of a football field.

The State of California has issued industry-specific guidelines for reopening during the coronavirus pandemic, including:

  • where players touch the cards, the deck must be discarded, sanitized, or set aside for 7 days after each dealer rotation
  • all chips must be washed and disinfected prior to circulation
  • all chips must be replaced after each dealer rotation
  • players who cannot maintain six feet apart must have barrier separation
  • eating at the table is prohibited, but drinks are OK

“If there is a safe legal way for them to operate outdoors, that’s a no brainer. Absolutely,” said Raul Peralez, San Jose City Councilmember.

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Because of the lockdown, San Jose has been unable to collect millions of dollars in tax revenue from the two cardrooms, and 700 employees have been laid off, according to Peralez.

“I don’t think anybody can argue that somehow that would be an essential operation that you want people to engage in. It’s not about that. It’s about the jobs, bringing back those jobs. It’s about bringing back that tax revenue for the city,” said Peralez. “And quite frankly, if it was not allowed by the state, If there wasn’t a legal, safe way to do this, we wouldn’t do it, we wouldn’t ask for it.”

Johnny Heshmati, a longtime customer, has been gambling online since the lockdown. Heshmati is looking forward to playing under the new health orders.

“I think it will add a different dynamic, right? But like everything else in the world, you know we’re we’re adapting with it,” said Heshmati. “I think it’s becoming the norm now so I don’t see it really throwing a damper on the experience or affecting things. I think you know, it’ll be just fine.”

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Casino M8trix hopes to be open by the week of September 7. Bay 101 says it is pushing to pass inspections and reopen by the end of this week.