Over the past few days, a ton of closures and cancellations have been seen across the United States due to the coronavirus. Casinos have shut down after employees tested positive for the virus as well as changes made to cleaning and sanitization in order to try and stop the spread of the condition. Even major sports leagues have cancelled or postponed events due to the virus. In Pennsylvania, the Valley Forge Casino is the first to shut down after being in a region that has been hit hard with the sickness.
Boyd Gaming, the operator of the Valley Forge Casino, announced that the venue was closing as of 6 a.m. on Friday. The venue plans on staying closed until March 27th. The move comes at a time when Governor Tom Wolf issued a director that facilities close due to the spread of the coronavirus.
This week, Wolf announced that non-essential businesses should close effectively March 13th and not reopen for at least 14 days. This includes schools, community centers, retail stores, etc. No mass gatherings should be taking place including rallies or conferences. With the closure of such facilities, the goal is to hopefully stop the spread of the coronavirus.
As of yesterday, the state had around 22 confirmed cases of the virus. Of that number, 13 were from Montgomery County, which is where the casino is located. No virus-related deaths have been seen in the state as of yet.
The Valley Forge Casino would fall into the category of entertainment facility and is a non-essential business. Casinos are considered venues with high-touch surfaces which put people at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus. You have casino chips, money, slot machines, ATMs and other areas where players are constantly touching items or surfaces that could be contaminated.
According to the press release by Boyd Gaming, the property had been following CDC protocols since February. Such changes on-site including frequent hand-washing among employees as well as more hand sanitizers on-site and the cleaning of high-touch areas at a more frequent rate.
Any employees who had flu-like symptoms were asked to go home immediately and get in touch with their physician. Anyone with a reservation at the facility during the closure period are asked to contact the property for information.
Online Gambling Anyone?
With the Valley Forge closing up shop, it would not be unheard of to see any of the remaining 11 casinos in the state closing up as well. While land-based gaming wouldn’t be an option, the state does have online casino options. The industry has seen steady revenues since launching last summer and this outbreak may result in even higher numbers of online players.
Most people are choosing to self-quarantine or spend as little time in public as possible to avoid contracting the virus. While at home in Pennsylvania, iGaming would be the perfect pastime. The state offers plenty of casino games like slots and blackjack as well as online sports betting.
We will not know how the coronarvirus outbreak affects the online gaming industry for a few months, but it would not be surprising to see a huge shift in online gameplay in the state. Being at home, more often than not, will result in boredom. Players can spend some time at home online at operators like FanDuel, enjoying online casino and sports betting options. The uptick is expected and it will be interesting to see just how the change affects the industry in the future.