Califonia's Towers Casino Reopens Then is Shut Down by DOJ Raid3 months ago
Towers Casino, a cardroom in northeastern California, became the first live-poker room in that state to reopen following the largely US-wide shutdown due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, less than 36 hours after its reopening, Towers was raided by DOJ agents and ordered to reclose its facility on account of being in violation of California’s state-mandated guidelines.
Towers offers a tiny six-table room located roughly equidistant from Sacramento and Reno, NV, in Grass Valley, California. Grass Valley is in a conservative area of California, in the foothills of the Sierras roughly 50 miles due west of Lake Tahoe. The self-described “family owned” room had advertised its plans to reopen for several days, with its online site -- at towerscasino.com -- and its related Facebook and Instagram accounts including plenty of information about how the club planned to reopen.
Plans included opening up only three of the room’s six tables and requiring dealers and staff to wear masks, frequent sanitizing, and other precautions. Masks for players were not made mandatory, but appear to have been strongly recommended, if perhaps lax in enforcement. Late in the day on Monday, Towers published a handful of photos showing at least one table in action. (One of the photos, which Towers saw fit to publish, below, shows the player in Seat 8 pulling his mask well away from his face in order to drink a beer at the table, while several of the other players are seen wearing ill-fitted masks as well.)
Towers operated all day on Monday, May 18, then opened again on Tuesday, May 19, with the same conditions in place. The room remained open until at least late afternoon, when the DOJ agents arrived to conduct what was described as a “raid”:
The agents, working for the California Department of Justice, served notice to Towers owner Jamey Robinson, who was present, that Towers’ reopening was in advance of the state’s broad reopening plans and that all commercial activity must cease. Ross also published a video from the scene showing Robinson in heated discussion with at least two of the DOJ agents.
“I was doing what I thought was legal and within the mandates that the county provided,” Robinson claimed to a local news outlet.
A Sacramento Bee feature also recounted the raid and reclosing of the card room. None of the reports examine any political beliefs or influence connected to the situation. As with many US states -- and in particular in conservative regions of those states -- there has been increasing defiance by businesses ordered closed by statewide mandate. Despite being a liberal state overall, California has vast swaths of conservative areas and has been deeply split by protests against the ongoing closures ordered by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
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