Pennsylvania Casinos See Loosening of COVID-19 Restrictions Including Capacity Limits

As more COVID-19 vaccinations are going into the arms of the public in the US as well as a decrease in positive case counts, businesses are reaping the benefits. For the casino industry, lower numbers mean more opportunities to offer gaming services. In Pennsylvania, the virus is steadily slowing down, so officials have decided to cut back on COVID-19 regulations. For casinos, this means more capacity percentages within venues and the opportunity to serve drinks on the gaming floor and within bars.

New Restriction Changes

For quite some time, casinos in the state have been unable to provide drink service to players at table games or slot machines. Anyone who wanted an alcoholic drink had to order one with a meal. These rules have been in place since June when the casinos started to reopen.

This week, Governor Tom Wolf announced that more restrictions are being loosened and capacity limits expanded. Thankfully for casinos, the news means that as of early April, drink service will be reinstated.

Restaurants inside casinos as well as throughout the state will be able to provide bar service. Players will be able to order an alcoholic drink without the need to order food. There will also no longer be a curfew for alcoholic drinks being removed from tables.

For indoor dining capacity, the casinos can now offer 75% service. This is only offered to restaurants that are willing to complete the self-certification process. The certification involves complying with safety and health guidelines set for the public including mitigation and cleaning standards.

While the service options are reinstated, the state is still encouraging outdoor dining, pick-up meals, and takeout. Mask-wearing is still a requirement at every casino in the state. Social distancing measures must also be maintained, including a six-foot distance between dining parties.

Governor Wolf stated that residents in the state have stepped up and done their part to help slow the spread of the virus. Case counts are going down and hospitalizations are on the decline. The positivity rate percentage is on the decline, which is a good sign.

City’s Have a Choice

Based on the new regulation changes, city officials have a chance to review the announcement by the governor before a decision is made to enact the changes. Philadelphia is a city that is home to the Live! Casino venue as well as Rivers Casino Philadelphia and the South Philadelphia Race & Sportsbook.

These venues will need to wait and see what city officials decide. The city has the option to be more restrictive if they so choose when it comes to mitigation efforts. The casinos are subject to the city’s approval or disapproval.

Hopefully, for the venue’s sake, the city will be on board. This will allow the casinos to get back to work, bringing back some employees to help fill in with more options for service.

Casino executives and lawmakers have been pushing for drink service to be reinstituted along with dining capacity limits. During a recent House Gaming Oversight Committee meeting, casino operators discussed how the drink service limitations affected business as well as employment. Thankfully in just a few weeks, the drink service will be back once more, with patrons having access to more services, and employees getting back to work.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.