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Gardens Casino Nearly Quadruples In Size After $90 Million Upgrade

Popular Card Club Offers Greater Los Angeles Area Top Notch Customer Service And Amenities


The Gardens Casino in Southern California, known for its friendly service and wide game selection, has unveiled a spectacular new casino, the largest casino construction project the region has seen in more than 30 years.

The previous 59,500-square-foot casino structure has been replaced with a beautiful, modern 200,000-square-foot gaming, dining, and entertainment complex that will more than double the number of tables offered and will add nearly 400 new employees. The new casino opened on April 6.

“This has been my dream for a long time,” said Ron Sarabi, who has been general manager of the Gardens Casino since 1998. “Most every casino in Southern California was built back in the 1980s so when they expand, it’s like a puzzle. This project brings state of the art technology and comfort to Southern California casinos. When you walk in, you’ll say ‘wow.’”

Sarabi is a visionary veteran of the casino industry. He ran the Commerce Casino for seven years (1986-1992) and the Normandie Casino for six (1993-1998). When he took over at Hawaiian Gardens, he started in a trailer with five tables before moving to a sprung structure which held 175 tables. Along the way, the casino developed a reputation for offering a fun, social atmosphere offering the most popular card games, including Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Blackjack, EZ Baccarat, the largest pai gow games in Southern California and Three Card Poker.

For the serious poker player, the Gardens Casino offers a full spectrum of no-limit games, starting at $20 and $40 buy-in no-limit hold’em, all the way up to $500-$1,500. Currently, the casino also offers smaller buy-in daily tournaments and the occasional $100,000 and $150,000 guaranteed prize pool events. But, Sarabi, says, “It will probably take us about six months to get going and then we are going to compete with everyone by offering big poker tournament events.”

The new casino is modeled after a sleek, Las Vegas resort with clean, upscale lines. The 154,000-square foot first floor includes poker and California gaming sections as well as a bar, café and restaurant. The second floor with more than 48,000 square feet is accessed via a grand stairway which leads to an event center that offers banquet and tournament space.

“When you enter the casino, poker is on one side, California games on the other and a restaurant and bar is located right in the middle,” Sarabi pointed out to Card Player. “You’re able to see everything from the front door. There is no puzzle. Our customers do not have to go left, go right, and stop at the stop sign to find what they are looking for. We have a private VIP area that can accommodate up to 120 people, a massive poker area with a separate, 34 table VIP poker section with its own restrooms, and a 12,500-square-foot second floor event center that can accommodate 750 tournament players. This has never been done in California.”

Old School Customer and Community Service

Once you walk into the Gardens Casino, get ready for the smiles and greetings. It’s clear that a culture of superior customer service percolates everywhere.

“You are not a number here, you are a person,” said Sarabi. “From the top down, we are all accessible. The number one focus for us is the customer. Our customers are the coolest people and the best behaved of any casino I’ve even been in or worked in. It’s a reflection of how we run our business.” Sarabi mentioned that nearly 100 customers, from the early casino trailer days, still play at the facility and as a show of gratitude before the opening they were provided with a private tour with accompanying hors d’oeuvres. How is that for loyalty?

Keeping with a commitment to personalized service, Director of Casino Operations Rick Covello notes that right when you walk in the door of the new casino a concierge will log you in, take you to your table, or direct you to the services you are seeking. “Just the look alone, without our extraordinary customer service, people are going to be amazed,” he added. “There is nothing even close to this and the last time a new casino was built in Los Angeles was more than 15 years ago. We are the most up-to-date casino with more offerings than anyone else.”

“We are going to have kiosks in the parking lot where you can put your name on the board as soon as you park and, by the time you walk into the casino your game will be ready,” Sarabi added. “We are also creating our own app where you view current tables and promotions, everything you need to have the most comfortable, technology wise, and easiest access to all our games and services.”

The casino, located right off the 605 just 30 minutes south of downtown Los Angeles, also gives back significantly to the local community. “We are 80 percent of the city budget and support every youth and senior citizen group here,” Sarabi said. “At Christmas, we have a big function that every child in Hawaiian Gardens, usually about 3,000 to 3,500 children, is invited to, with food, presents, Santa. It’s great.”

Poker is growing again in Southern California and the Gardens Casino plans to help fast track that growth. Sarabi says “I believe the Gardens Casino will take poker in Southern California to a whole new level. When you watch Poker After Dark and you see those fancy tables and the high-end atmosphere you are going to walk in here and say, ‘I would love to play here.’” And judging by the beautiful new casino, friendly employees and great action, you certainly will.

For more information, visit the casino homepage or call 562-860-5887.