Business owners in pool hall industry say they’re taking big economic hit during pandemic

Pool halls ready to reopen

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Glenn Robin says his Kenner business, Corner Pocket, has been shut down since the pandemic started in March.

“I’ve run different scenarios through my mind about what could possibly go wrong and this has never, never, ever been on the radar, it’s really not a good thing at all,” said Robin. “The bills are still here, the lease is still here, electric is still here, it’s going to be the demise of a lot of pool rooms in the state.”

While some Covid-19 restrictions have been eased in phase three of reopening Louisiana’s economy, those in the pool business are expressing concerns they’re not getting enough relief.

“When you look at pool, a lot of what happens at a pool table is kind of inherently social distanced, itself, right? You have one person at the table at a time, the table is 7 to 9 feet long and it just doesn’t make sense that it’s not allowed but other activities are,” Robin said.

Stacy Daussat with the American Pool Player’s Association says her business is hurting too. She’s with an adult recreational billiard league with about 350 teams playing in 7 parishes in the Greater New Orleans region.

“I think everyone is in agreement that the mandates that are in place as far as the mask wearing and the social distancing, everyone is in agreement they will do whatever they have to do to be able to play the sport that they love, you know, the bar owners, the pool hall owners are at the same time willing and have always been willing to follow those guidelines and do whatever they need to do to keep their businesses safe, you know, for the patrons as well as for themselves,” Daussat said.

We reached out to the Governor’s Office about those concerns. They say pool halls are in the same category as bowling alleys and can open with an approved plan by the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Louisiana Department of Health. But, if a business has a bar permit, they have to follow the rules for bars, currently, in phase 3, that does not allow people to stand around, congregate, or play bar games, including pool.

“I think maybe pool got caught up in a bigger umbrella of maybe the licensing issue but I wish somebody would go back to take the time to look at that because there is a lot of people that are going to lose businesses, maybe for no reason at all,” Robin said.

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