reopening the bay area

San Bruno Cardroom Artichoke Joe's Open for Outdoor Gaming

NBC Universal, Inc.

A popular Peninsula casino reopened outdoors Friday, with a spacious, open-ended tent in its parking lot.

Artichoke Joe's in San Bruno received clearance from San Mateo County public health officials to operate its cardroom around the clock, with COVID-19 restrictions in place, after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on the construction of a massive tent.

The makeshift facility accommodates nearly three dozen card tables.

The casino, which officially reopened at 6 p.m. Friday, says it will enforce body temperature checks and face coverings at the entrance as well as limit capacity inside the tent to conform to social distancing parameters.

It also will maintain hand-washing and sanitizing protocols for all employees and guests.

"Our playing cards will be sanitized, our chips will go through a cleaning process," said Artichoke Joe’s President Vincent Defriese. “When you go inside, there's hand sanitation stations everywhere, including the playing tables, wipes, our dealers and floor personnel are required to clean tables after every time someone gets up."

Masks are mandatory and the tables will be booze-free, limited to a specific number of players, and cleaned every one of the 24 hours a day Joe’s stays open.

"The sneeze guards are there so you guys are kind of in your own bubble, so no one spreads any germs,” said dealer Mani Phommabong, who is one of 400 people who just got their jobs back. “Every dealer gets a hand towel at the beginning of their shift, and they have to wipe down every counter top that's being touched, and the cards and the machine."

The casino at 659 Huntington Ave. will offer all California games, with poker coming soon, according to its website. The casino's restaurant offers curbside service, and tent dining will be available 7 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Earlier in the week, two San Jose cardrooms, Casino M8trix and Bay 101, got the green light from city leaders to reopen for outdoor gaming, with restrictions. No opening dates have been released.

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