Gamblers face big changes: Here's a look inside Cache Creek Casino Resort amid pandemic

BROOKS, Calif. (KGO) -- Every day, COVID-19 changes the way people interact in this world.

On Wednesday, ABC7's Wayne Freedman dined in at a restaurant in Napa County, the first Bay Area county beginning to open restaurants for sit-down service.

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On Thursday, he took a look at how COVID-19 is changing the casino industry.

While some casinos have reopened, Cache Creek near Brooks in Yolo County remains closed, even though it sits on sovereign land owned by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation.

"We could be open right now," said General Manager Kari Stout-Smith. "But, we're not. We don't think it's time yet."

ABC7 met her in middle of a 107,000 square-foot gaming floor.

The casino's 2,400 employees continue to receive pay, tips and benefits, even though the facility has been closed for months.

It will open only after COVID-19 modifications, which will begin at the door with a temperature check for anyone entering.

Masks are requirement for anyone not eating or drinking.

Gamblers who like games and slot machines will notice one change immediately -- social distancing between machines.

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You will find one turned on, then the next off, with chair taken away in between.

The casino chose not to install plexiglass.

Why?

"The more surfaces, the more you need to clean and sanitize," said Stout-Smith.

One typical slot machine has 14 touch points, plus a pull arm on the side.

They will need to be cleaned constantly.

"A never ending chore," said Stout-Smith. "Our way of doing business changed completely overnight."

Poker? Gone.

Players sit too close together and the mask requirement takes away a crucial element.

Table games have also been a social experience.

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A roulette table that used to allow 16 players on both sides now allows only six.

Blackjack? Three players.

Baccarat? Four players.

Craps? Six.

The casino has been reconfiguring, moving equipment and removing 500 machines to create more space. At the bar and in the new steakhouse, tables and chairs are spaced far apart.

So, will the casino be charging more for food and services?

"Not in this economy," said Stout-Smith.

In summary, it's a gamble, sure, but this is a casino.

Cache Creek has not yet named a date for reopening.

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