This week marked the beginning of returning back to normal. With casinos across the United States either reopening or announcing plans and dates to restart business, a lot has happened in the past five days. We cover the events from May 24 through May 29.
Chickasaw Nation Restarted Operation on Wednesday
The Chickasaw Nation Casino reopened its properties in Oklahoma, after an official confirmed phase one of the tribe’s reopening plans last Friday. All gaming properties restarted operation at 25% of their full capacity, making for a modest, but refreshing return.
Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby assured the public that the tribe had developed protocols to keep everyone safe or a “comprehensive plan with numerous levels of protection in place.”
The measures included extensive screening and testing of patrons and staff as well as responsible distancing policies designed to keep people at a safe distance from each other. Patrons or staff members with a confirmed temperature of 100.4°F or higher aren’t allowed on the casino floor.
Unlike other casinos where wearing a protective mask for patrons has been optional, Chickasaw Nation insisted on in its own facilities.
Stanley Ho, the Godfather of Gambling, Passes Away
While the United States was caught in a feverish mission to restart its casino industry, Stanley Ho, the man who de facto built Macau’s gambling industry passed away at age 98. Ho first went to Macau as a refugee but his future had building an empire in store for him, beginning with the casino monopoly in 1962, which he won.
Opening up Macau for gambling allowed overseas giants to come rushing in, with Las Vegas Sands Corp., Wynn Resorts Ltd. and MGM Resorts International all establishing local subsidiaries and opening casinos in Macau.
Yet, it was Ho’s own company, SJM, that dominated, owning the majority of casino properties. With 17 children, his legacy continues to live today in Macau and beyond.
Iowa Announces Own Reopening Plans
The State of Iowa will also seek to reopen on Monday, June 1, Gov. Kim Reynolds confirmed on Tuesday this week. As per the announcement, gatherings of more than 10 people will be allowed once again, as the state continues to assess the situation and amend measures as deemed fit.
Casinos will continue operation, though, as part of the businesses allowed to return. Iowa’s return to normality would be easier than most other states, as the state never actually implemented shelter-in-place orders and many businesses and educational institutions continued to operate even at the height of the outbreak.
Gov. Reynolds explained that for Iowa to recover, it would need to find a balance between economic and social measures, allowing the state to operate.
Nevada’s Casinos Are Reopening on June 4
After a lot of back-and-fro with Nevada’s state regulators and health authorities, Governor Steve Sisolak finally confirmed on Wednesday that the Silver State will continue gaming operations come June 4.
It has been two months since all casinos suspended operations on March 18, plummeting the gaming sector in a recession. However, state health officials have now given a positive data, allowing the $12-billion industry to return under strict regulatory guidelines.
Gov. Sisolak explained that while the industry was returning under specific regulation, limited capacity, new sanitation rules and much more to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
The governor related his decision to reopen to the Gaming Control Board, Nevada’s gaming regulator. In his statement, Gov. Sisolak emphasized on the health and safety of employees, residents and visitors. He said that only if those measures were adequately put in place would Nevada continue to remain open past June 4.
Reopening, though, will be slow, as different casinos are posting different timelines for returning back to business. Another challenge that would need to be addressed would be the lack of visitors, which are not expected to return immediately, Moody’s has warned in a recent report.
Blue Chip Casino Permanently to Lay off up to 60% of Staff
The post-COVID-19 recovery won’t be easy for anyone and certainly not easy for the Blue Chip Casino in Indiana where executives have been forced to enforce some strict measures and announce planned layoffs for staff at a rate of 25% to 60% of the current workforce in Michigan City.
Boyd Gaming, the company which owns the casino, communicated its decision to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, sending a Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification ahead of the planned layoff. If carried out in full, Michigan City will see over 600 people lose their jobs.
Commenting on this development, VP Corporate Human Resources at Boyd Gaming, Chris Smith, had this to say in his letter to the state: “Like many businesses across the country and in our industry, Boyd Gaming has been significantly affected by COVID-19 and the mandatory closures of all of our properties since mid-March.”
Delaware Park Begins Testing Employees in Reopening Bid
With planned restart of activities back on Monday, Delaware Park has begun testing of its staff to ensure the safety of returning patrons as well as its work force. The property will use thermal fever-detecting cameras to help single out patrons or staff members who may be spiking a fever without knowing it.
The restart of operations is much needed, especially at a time when Delaware Park is projecting revenue dropping by the whopping 40% percent. Twin River Worldwide Holdings, Inc, owner of Delaware Park, sent invitation letters to patrons last week, assuring them that the company has put in place all the necessary precautions to safely restart operations.
However, there will be a number of restrictions pertaining to the facility’s overall occupancy as well as social distancing and gaming session. For starters, Delaware Park is opening at only 30% capacity, which is on par with what most of the state is doing right now.
All gaming machines must be kept at least eight feet apart, and disinfection crews will sweep through the casino floor every 15 minutes to 2 hours, Delaware Park confirmed.