WHEATLAND, Calif. (KTXL) — California is only in phase two of four of reopening, and according to Governor Gavin Newsom, casinos are not allowed to open until phase three.
Tribal casinos, however, are not legally required to follow state guidelines. That’s why after closing its doors two months ago, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain welcomed back gamblers Thursday morning.
“Just wanted to go out and do something man,” said Randell Joseph. “We’ve been stuck at home for so long.”
Just a few hours after the casino opened up, almost every parking space had been filled up. But as they welcome back customers, casino executives say they’re following CDC physical distancing guidelines.
“This is the first thing I heard of that was open as entertainment,” Mike Selby told FOX40. “I won 500 bucks.”
Marc Bertha, the casino’s president, says his staff is following guidelines put out by his parent company Hard Rock International.
“We have all kinds of sanitizer stations all around our property,” said Bertha. “We reduced our gaming occupancy at our table games by 50%. As well as our slot machines, every other one is turned off to keep people socially distant.”
Last week, Newsom sent a letter to tribal leaders across the state asking them to reconsider reopening while California is in phase two.
They still reopened, but Bertha says his staff has been working with local health officials.
“Yuba County has reviewed our plan and they acknowledged we put all the appropriate measures in place,” said Bertha. “And again, we’re a sovereign nation so we have the ability to manage ourselves.”
Reopening early also didn’t seem to be a concern for some patrons.
“We’re not that paranoid about it,” said Sharen Joseph. “We don’t even know anybody that’s had it.”
The customers did say, however, if you are at risk you probably shouldn’t gamble it by going to a casino.
“I doubt there’s very many vulnerable here,” said Selby. “I don’t think that you’d come out to the casino if you’re a vulnerable person.”
Not everybody seemed to be free of concern. Some patrons left early saying they could see people not keeping 6 feet apart and often saw people taking off their masks to drink and smoke.
As for other casinos, Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln has said they won’t be reopening, but Gold Country Casino Resort in Oroville announced on its website it would reopen Friday.