State shuts down Grass Valley card room, owner says it was a misunderstanding

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GRASS VALLEY, Calif. (KTXL) — Special agents shut down Towers Casino and Card Room Tuesday night in Grass Valley after the business pressed its luck with reopening against the governor’s orders.

Owner Jamey Robinson said she didn’t realize she was violating any rules.

“I was doing what I thought was legal and within the mandates that the county provided,” she said.

Robinson received an email from Nevada County Environmental Health on May 11, laying out the rules for restaurants to reopen under phase 2 guidelines.

Even though she doesn’t serve food, she filled out documentation of her reopening plans and Environmental Health invited her to a training webinar. So she thought her business must have qualified.

“I wasn’t trying to make a stance. I wasn’t trying to, you know, say, ‘Forget all the guidelines, we’re opening up anyway,’” she said.

A Nevada County spokesperson says the email was sent out to every business with a beverage or food license and was meant to educate— not give permission to reopen.

Health and Human Services Director Ryan Gruver reiterates that while dine-in restaurants and stores can reopen in the county, with restrictions, he says they have not given permission to any gambling facilities. Some tribal-run casinos have reopened but the state has no legal jurisdiction to shut them down.

“I would characterize the intermixing of people that occurs at bars and game rooms as inherently more risky than a family group that’s already living together and already exposed to each other going to a restaurant and dining in a group socially distanced from other family groups,” Gruver said.

The order says operating the casino “poses an immediate threat to the public health safety and welfare.”

Robinson said she’ll follow instructions to keep her doors shut until she has permission.

“Our card room has been in business 10 years and we’ve never had any issues at all,” she said. “We’ve never been in any sort of trouble. We run a clean operation.”

She just hopes the state will put its cards on the table to let her know when she’ll be able to get back to work.

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