New Philadelphia COVID-19 Restrictions to Close Casino, Race and Sportsbook

  • Rivers Casino Philadelphia will pause operations on November 20 until at least January 1, 2021
  • The South Philadelphia Race and Sportsbook facility will also shut temporarily
  • Casinos in other parts of Pennsylvania can continue operating with existing restrictions
  • Other states are implementing measures for casinos to help curb the spread of coronavirus
coronavirus stamp on map of Philadelphia and surrounding
The South Philadelphia Race and Sportsbook, together with the only casino in the city, will close their doors temporarily as new COVID-19 restrictions come into effect. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

The latest measures

Rivers Casino Philadelphia will close its doors on November 20 until at least January 1, 2021, in line with new COVID-19 restrictions that are coming into place in the city. The South Philadelphia Race and Sportsbook will also close under the order. The new “Safer at Home” measures aim to curtail the spread of the virus, with further restrictions or an extension to the current period possible.

new “Safer at Home” measures aim to curtail the spread of the virus

Currently, the Rivers Casino Philadelphia is the only casino within the city’s limits. The Live! Casino Philadelphia is set to open in early 2021.

High schools and colleges in Philadelphia will now mainly move to online learning, and there will be no more indoor dining as part of the latest restrictions. Other businesses that have to close include entertainment facilities, museums, recreational activities, gyms, and senior day services. Sports fans can no longer attend Philadelphia Eagles games at Lincoln Financial Field as events and gatherings formats undergo changes.

In a press conference on Monday afternoon, City of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney outlined that the number of positive cases of COVID-19 jumped by at least 700% in under two months. He said of the situation: “We need to act now to reduce the rate of increase and flatten the curve once again.”

The situation in Pennsylvania

Currently, the other commercial casinos in Pennsylvania are able to continue operating despite Philadelphia implementing new restrictions.

operating at 50% capacity with extensive social distancing and safety protocols

Casinos are still adhering to the rules that came into effect upon reopening in June after the first round of pandemic shutdowns. These include operating at 50% capacity with extensive social distancing and safety protocols in place. The facilities are not offering any drinks services on casino floors as well as prohibiting smoking on the premises.

The Rivers Casino Philadelphia voluntarily closed in March after COVID-19 cases rose rapidly in the state. It did not resume business activity until July 17, being the last gambling property to open its doors in Pennsylvania. Since then, it has been conducting temperature checks, operating at 25% capacity, and running an upgraded HVAC system. 

Restrictions in other states

With COVID-19 cases on the rise around the country, restrictions are coming into place on casinos in other states. Casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey – just an hour’s drive from Philadelphia – can no longer offer indoor food or drink services between 10pm and 5am. A similar measure is in place at New York casinos. 

Michigan casinos will close for three weeks from November 18, while Massachusetts casinos must observe a daily curfew between 9:30pm and 5am. Indiana casinos need to set up reserved spaces for smoking, eating, and drinking away from the gaming floors starting November 15, ensuring that all staff respect face covering and social distancing measures.

Finally, casinos in Teller County, Colorado closed their doors on Monday, while facilities in Gilpin County have paused their table games offerings.