US Casinos Continue Reopening With Reduced Capacity

The United States’ casino industry is slowly waking up with a string of reopenings across the country. After Las Vegas last week, more properties, cities and states are following suite and restarting their operations. We cover the most important developments from the week in the US casino industry, covering the period June 8 – June 10.

Century Casinos Restart Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort in West Virginia

Before the week started, Century Casinos relaunched operations in West Virginia on Friday, June 5, with new safety and health measures in place. The company introduced temperature checks for all customers and introduced a strict code of conduct. All customers are urged to wear masks whereas masks are mandatory part of the staff’s equipment.

The casino has been running at 50% capacity, bringing in slot machines and various gambling tables, as well as introducing the appropriate distance between all. The racetrack already renewed racing on May 30, with William Hill operating a sportsbook at the property. Initial business volumes, said Peter Hoetzinger, an executive officer at Century Casinos, were encouraging.

Detroit’s Casinos Reopen at 15% Capacity, A Slow Going

Some states have been more cautious than others, with the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) deciding that when Detroit’s casinos reopen, they will be operating at a reduced capacity. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer outlined public health and safety protocols, covering what to expect from indoors activities moving past the COVID-19 restrictions which shuttered business in mid-March and have been active ever since.

All casinos will be required to establish entrance points as well as checking visitors’ temperatures. As per the maximum Fire Department recommendations, casinos will be allowed to operate at 15% capacity. It will be casinos’ responsibility to ensure that any queues of visitors waiting to attend the casino properties are properly socially distanced, allowing everyone to keep a safe distance of six feet between each other.

However, not all operators will restart. Poker rooms, for example, will remain closed as they pose difficulties in ensuring social distance and safety. Most other table games will be restarted, but they will only come with a limit of three players. As to slots, casinos will have to install plexiglass barriers between individual machines.

Casinos will further have to propose reopening plans which will then be evaluated by the MGCB and given a go-ahead if found appropriate.

MGM Continues to Reopen Properties at a Good Pace

While some brands have been a tad uncertain about the future of their business and reopening has been generally seen as a risky gambit, MGM Resorts has decided to lead the way. After restarting operation in Las Vegas, the company decided to add the Excalibur Hotel & Casino to the list of properties the company is reopening.

The property opened on Thursday, joining other casinos owned by the company, including the New York-New York, MGM Grand Las Vegas, The Signature and The Bellagio. The Excalibur remains complaint with guidance issued by the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB).

This means that customer occupancy has been limited to 50% and the number of active players per table, as in many other places around the United States, remains three players per game. Craps table have been allowed to add six players and for roulette and poker, four people are allowed per table.

MGMG Resorts CEO and president, Bill Hornbuckle, said that he was thrilled to see the enthusiasm with which visitors and guests had been returning to Las Vegas. Getting people back to work was another top priority for the company, Hornbuckle noted.

In addition to the Excalibur reopening, the company is restarting its Aria, Luxor & Mandalay Bay this “summer,” although the first properties will open on June 25 and then in July.

Pennsylvania’s Rivers Casino and Meadows Racetrack and Casino Open Doors

Following an approval by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to reopen casino properties in the state as part of the “green phase,” indicating the Keystone State readiness to return to business. Some 34 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties have been given the go-ahead to begin rolling out business operations, including casinos.

Rivers Casino in Pittsburg, Allegheny County and Meadows in North Strabane Township, Washington were the first to reopen on Tuesday, June 9. The casinos will operate at 50% capacity as per health standards. Today, Friday, June 12, Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin in Farmington, Fayette County will also resume operations, joining the already running state casinos.

Unfortunately, poker games are off the table and have been suspended indefinitely, until such a time that health authorities deem it appropriate for the activities to return back to normal.

Boyd Gaming to Carry out Reopening Plans in Ohio and Indiana

Boyd Gaming announced yesterday, June 11, that it will reopen three casinos in Indiana and Ohio, making a steadfast push towards return to normality. As of the time of the announcement, Boyd said that with the new reopenings, the company would see a total of 24 out of 29 of its US properties restart again.

The first properties to reopen will be the Blue Chip Casino Hotel and Spa in Michigan and the Belterra Casino Resort in Florence, Indiana. The reopening is planned for Monday, June 15.

Shutdowns in both Ohio and Indiana began in mid-March, when Ohio Governor Mike DeWine prohibited all public gatherings and shuttered businesses with similar decision taken by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb.

Returning, maximum capacity for all Ohio casino properties will be set at 50% with employees at all reopened casinos instructed to keep a distance of at least 6 feet. However, casinos in Ohio will restart operations on June 19, after Boyd Gaming’s properties in Indiana launch first.

Meanwhile, outlook for Indiana and Ohio hasn’t been exactly promising. The COVID-19 crisis has led to a slump in gaming and betting revenue. Meanwhile, Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 194 to legalize both retail and mobile sports betting, which will hopefully arrive on time for November’s elections.

In the meantime, you can track all casinos as they reopen in the United States on the American Gaming Association (AGA)’s official website.