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Green counties get the green light

Pennsylvania casinos are about to take their turn to reopen. Three of the state’s 12 casinos have announced that they will open next week: Meadows Racetrack and Casino, Rivers Casino, and Lady Luck Nemacolin. The former two will both reopen on Tuesday, June 9, while the latter will wait until Friday, June 12.

All three were permitted to reopen as early as today, June 5, but decided to delay slightly to make sure everything was in order. They are all located in what are classified as “green” counties, which is the color code for Pennsylvania counties that are allowed to have the most types of businesses, including casinos, reopen after more than a two-month shutdown.

Most of the green counties are in the western and northern portions of the state. Meadows, Rivers, and Lady Luck are all in the southwest region; Rivers is actually in the city of Pittsburgh. The southeast part of the state, where Philadelphia is located, is in “yellow” status right now and not ready for casinos to welcome back customers.

The new normal of casino gaming

On May 19, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) issued a 10-page document outlining the minimum safety standards all casinos must implement to be permitted to reopen.

“Our team had already been working on making the changes announced by the PGCB in May,” Rivers Casino General Manager Bill Keena said. “We intend to meet or exceed all requirements to provide a healthy environment. The safety and well-being of our team members, our guests and the community are our top priority.”

Part of the health protocols includes permitting casinos to only admit customers up to 50% of their maximum capacity. Everybody in the casinos, both guests and staff, must wear face coverings to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Among other rules are mandatory social distancing markings in queues, hand sanitizing stations at each entrance and around the casino floor, and frequent cleaning of high touch equipment and surfaces.

Meadows has posted details of its reopening on its website. Some restaurants and bars will be open, but non-gaming entertainment is still suspended. The poker room is also closed. Every other slot machine will be turned off and most table games will be limited to three players each. Six guests can play at craps tables.

The casino comeback has begun

The first week of June has been a big one for casinos in the United States. Delaware and Connecticut casinos – the latter of which includes such names as Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods – reopened on June 1. West Virginia casinos welcomed back gamblers on June 5. Some Arizona casinos reopened this week, as well.

Of course, all eyes were on Nevada, which saw its casinos start their phased reopenings on Thursday, June 4. In Las Vegas, MGM opened MGM Grand, Bellagio, and New York-New York, while Caesars reopened the Flamingo and Caesars palace. Because of high demand, Caesars also reopened Harrah’s Las Vegas on Friday. Wynn opened both Encore and its namesake and Las Vegas Sands reopened the Venetian. Stations Casinos opened a score of casinos in the area, like Red Rock and Green Valley Ranch.

Several downtown casinos such as The D are now open and MGM plans to get Excalibur up and running next week.

Also next week, Alabama casinos will open to the public on Monday, June 8 after a soft launch this week for invited guests. Rhode Island casinos will open by invitation only on Monday, as well, and a few California casinos, including Thunder Valley Casino Resort, will also reopen that day.

Many casinos in Louisiana, Florida, and Mississippi have been open for a couple weeks already. In all, more than half of the nearly 1,000 casinos in the United States are back in business.

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