Northeast states decide gaming fate
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to be a problem across the US, states in the northeast are still making decisions on casino gaming venues. Maine casinos will be reopening this week, but in nearby New York, it is unclear when casinos will be back in action as Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced that gambling venues will remain closed.
Officials in both states have been reviewing their COVID-19 situations. While New York has made significant progress in suppressing the spread of the virus, Governor Cuomo is not quite ready to reopen the gaming industry. In Maine, state officials reached an agreement on a pandemic safety plan, allowing the venues to get their employees back to work.
Maine limits capacity, sets up zones
Maine’s two casinos have been shut down for months because of the coronavirus outbreak. State officials recently created a safety plan that restricts the properties to housing just 200 people at a time.
split the main halls of the casinos into four zones
Gatherings in Maine are limited to 50 people or fewer. Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck said the biggest challenge was figuring out how the casinos would be able to generate revenue and operate safely while abiding by this restriction. The solution: split the main halls of the casinos into four zones, which each zone able to house 50 people.
Sauschuck said: “That was big change and a big move that really allowed the casinos to be viable. With a location that big it would be difficult if it was just 50 people.”
Maine regulations require that both customers and employees of Maine casinos wear face coverings. Social distancing of six feet must be maintained at slot machines and table games. Because the casinos use remote-controlled slot machines, the operators can easily shut off games to aid in social distancing.
Hollywood Casino Bangor announced on its website plans to reopen this Friday. Oxford Casino, ready to welcome back 100 staff members, is preparing to announce a reopening date soon.
If a quadrant is full, customers will not be allowed past the checkpoint
Oxford Casino General Manager Jack Sours told Maine Public Radio that the casino will manage its quadrants independently. As guests move through the casino, they will reach checkpoints. If a quadrant is full, customers will not be allowed past the checkpoint and into the next quadrant. If it is available, players can move into that sector.
No reopening date for New York casinos
In New York, there is still no date for when casinos can reopen. On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that casinos, as well as movie theaters, will stay closed. The closure will continue as the state considers how such venues can reopen safely.
Cuomo made the announcement of the continued closure in a press conference:
The state is taking a measured approach to reopening the casinos in the hopes of avoiding a resurgence of the virus. Naturally, the lockdowns have hit New York’s gaming industry hard. The Rivers Casino and Resort of Schenectady, for example, closed on March 16 and had to furlough the majority of its staff members. The casino also cut salaries of its remaining employees significantly.
Rivers is currently working on a reopening plan that will cover cleanliness, crowd management, social distancing, and isolation.