What Can Casinos Do to Create a Safe Environment After Reopening Amidst COVID-19?

In states across the US, casinos are preparing to open after being shut down due to the coronavirus. After federal guidelines were released by the Trump Administration, operators began to think about how they can reopen and offer a safe environment for employees and guests. Will guests even be willing to visit the gaming properties? Will reopening over the next few weeks or months be too soon? Below we consider a few steps that casinos are or might take to ensure their facility stays COVID-19 free.

Social Distancing Practices

For casinos, there will have to be the implementation of social distancing practices. This can be done in several ways. Some venues are planning out how they will distance guests when checking in to their hotels. Others are thinking about what can be done on the casino floor. One of the most popular sections of a casino is the slot games. To provide social distancing in this area, casinos can close off one or more seats in between players. This will allow players to use the slots while maintaining distance from others.

At the poker tables and table games like blackjack and roulette, the distancing may be more of a problem. The Margaritaville Casino Resort in Louisiana is reportedly adding sneeze guards at their table games. The guard is placed in front and to the sides of players so there is separation between each player and the dealer. This may be a tactic that many casinos to ensure social distancing within these games.

Monitoring Fever

A contributing factor to COVID-19 is a high fever. Many casinos are already planning on using temperature checks or thermal cameras to detect an issue with body temperature. Guests or employees who are found to have a temperature of 100.4 or higher will be asked to seek medical attention. This may seem like a drastic measure to some but one that many operators are willing to take in order to keep the virus from spreading within their facilities.

The Encore Boston Harbor Casino even introduced the option before they were shut down due to the state wide order. The screening process is a good way to weed out those who may be infected and keep them from contaminating the casino with germs.

Smaller Capacity

Another consideration that may come in to play is lowering the capacity within a casino. Retailers that have remained in business throughout the pandemic have been allowing only a certain number of people into their facility. For larger properties though, even limiting to 50% capacity still can create large crowds of people.

The smaller capacity idea will only work if players are going to practice social distancing. If you have been to a Walmart or other big box store, you have surely seen people without masks and gloves, not keeping a safe distance from others. Employees have feared for their safety and can tell story upon story of customers who got too close.

For casinos, it will be imperative that they work to ensure anyone onsite is staying a safe distance from others. Many venues are also implementing stricter cleaning schedules as well as providing staff members with masks. Some are even considering providing patrons with masks as well.

In general, there is no clear-cut guide as to how casinos should get back to business. The way they operate will be set on a state to state basis. It will be interesting to see how the major operators get back to work and if there will be a spike in COVID-19 cases after reopening begins.

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