Players Casino is back in action in Ventura, CA. After a much longer-than-expected hiatus, the cardroom reopened yesterday at the Ventura County Fairgrounds’ Derby Club, according to the VC Star. This is a larger venue than its previous home, but it offers only limited additional amenities for now.
Players Casino Returns to Action
Players signed a two-year lease at the fairgrounds in November. The Ventura City Council then approved the temporary move.
The cardroom, with 22 tables, is open for those 21 years old and older and is upstairs from the Derby Room. The Derby Room is open for patrons to purchase a variety of food offerings, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. However, they must be consumed downstairs.
Marina Martinez, the cardroom’s assistant GM, stated that the COVID-19 precautions will likely prevent food and beverages from entering the casino.
Martinez explained, “If we have customers playing and they’re eating and drinking at the tables, that means their masks are down,” Martinez said. “Our priority is health and safety for not just our staff but our patrons, most importantly.”
COVID-19 Forces Shutdown
The casino announced that it had suspended its operations in December 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The casino then filed for bankruptcy on April 6.
According to the budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year, Ventura lost $2 million in cardroom taxes from the closure. Officials from the city said that they hoped that the relocation would bring in some revenue.
According to them, the state-owned property at the fairgrounds is a problem. The city cannot tax the casino 15% of its revenue as it did at the old location. Officials from the city and casino reached a compromise by agreeing to pay a settlement in lieu of taxes.
The agreement runs through 2025. It provides that the city will receive 10% instead of 15% of the casino’s operating revenue. This is a concession for Players to cover the unknown costs of relocation. The city also agreed that the additional 5% would be deferred until 2027.
Under the agreement, the city will receive approximately $1.3 million per year.
According to acting city attorney Andy Hegland, the casino could be ineligible to operate after the agreement expires in 2025. After that, its license will only continue if the city approves.