In Pennsylvania, the government has decided to begin reopening businesses. This will occur in color-coded phases. There are thirty seven counties that are currently in the Yellow Phase with businesses able to get back to work. However, casinos in those regions cannot reopen. Casinos are going to have to wait until the Green Phase is reached.
Casinos located in the Yellow Phase include the Presque Isle Downs, Lady Luck Nemacolin, Rivers Casino Pittsburgh and The Meadows. All around these venues, businesses will be reopening, but the casinos will have to wait a bit longer.
In the United States, the coronavirus caused a complete shutdown of the country, for the most part. In the casino industry, all 989 of the casinos operating across the nation shut down. Over 650,000 individuals were affected due to loss of employment. In Pennsylvania, a total of 17,000 employees were affected.
In late April, the state’s Gaming Control Board held a meeting with officials stating that discussions of when casinos could get back to work were taking place. According to Executive Director Kevin O’Toole, the staff is anxious to continue the process of reopening casinos as well as VGT gaming. However, at the time, it is unclear as to when specifically casinos will be given the greenlight.
In other states around the US, casino operators have submitted plans as to how they will function upon reopening to provide a safe and healthy environment for guests and employees. Examples of measures being implemented includes an increase in cleaning, employees and guests wearing masks, temperature checks at entrances and social distancing.
We have yet to see a casino reopen, so it is unclear as to how such restrictions will work. Several are opening this weekend, so we should have insight soon as to if players are taking heed of the social distancing restrictions and if they are actually getting back out and visiting such establishments.
During the recent ICE North American Digital online conference, several panels discussed the future of casinos and what changes might be seen in the future. According to H2 Gambling Capital founder Simon Holliday, he feels that a surge will be seen in the beginning due to demand but caution should be taken long-term.
Holliday stated that in the longer term, people will be more hesitant to go to public areas and it could take years to see the industry get back to normal once people are finally free of travel restrictions and feel comfortable going out of state.
Others pointed out that guests are going to watching as to how operators will be treating their employees. If the guests feel that employees are not safe, they won’t feel safe as well. It is imperative that operators focus on employee health and safety if they are going to build confidence among players.
We are currently living in a new world and must get accustomed to how things operate now. Depending on property restrictions, some people may not want to visit. Take temperature checks and masks for example. Many people in the US think that these factors are infringing on their constitutional rights. They will not visit such properties if these restrictions are in place.
This may play a role in just how busy facilities are as well as the fear of contracting the virus factor. We will stay tuned to developments and report on how casinos fare once venues have been open for a few days.