Most US Casinos Are Open This COVID Christmas

  • Michigan casinos were allowed to open this week; all three Detroit casinos are open
  • Most Nevada casinos have reopened, but at 25% capacity
  • Pennsylvania casinos are shut down for the rest of December
  • Massachusetts casinos are open, but must close from 9:30pm to 5:30am
"Come In We're Open" window sign
Though there are capacity restrictions in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most casinos in the US are open Christmas weekend, with the notable exception of those in Pennsylvania. [Image:]

Michigan casinos open just in time

The COVID-19 pandemic is still raging in the United States, but with many people about to embark on a long Christmas weekend, there will be plenty of Americans who want to visit a casino in the next few days. Casinos have been opening and closing for months, so today we will take a quick look at where things stand in a few states, so those who want to test their luck (while staying safe, please) can know what to expect.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer just gave her state’s casinos the green light to welcome back guests starting this past Monday. Of the three commercial casinos in Detroit, both MotorCity and MGM Grand Detroit reopened on Wednesday, while Greektown just announced that it will open back up on Thursday.

all indoor food and drink service is still prohibited

There might be a wait to get in, however, as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has instituted a 100-person capacity limit. An MGM Grand spokesperson said that the casino will limit things to 100 people per “space,” so it sounds like they received some leeway based on a property’s layout. Once inside, expect the usual social distancing and mask-wearing requirements. Do not, however, expect food and beverage, as all indoor food and drink service is still prohibited, as it requires mask removal.

Las Vegas Strip ready to go

Most Nevada casinos are now open, including the Rio, home of the World Series of Poker, which just reopened on Tuesday. All Las Vegas Strip casinos are operational; the last one to welcome back guests was The Cromwell in late October. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, just seven casinos run by the six largest Nevada-based operators are still closed, including Boyd Gaming’s Main Street Station and Eastside Cannery, and Station Casinos’ Palms and Fiesta Henderson.

Keep in mind, though, that some popular gaming properties will be either completely or partially closed midweek because of lack of business. Encore at Wynn Las Vegas has closed both its casino and hotel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Palazzo at the Venetian Resort is keeping its hotel closed every day.

Park MGM is only accepting hotel reservations on the weekends, as is Planet Hollywood. Mandalay Bay is stretching it out a bit more, only closing its hotel Monday through Wednesday. The Mirage also just announced that it will only accept weekend reservations (noon Thursday to noon Monday) beginning January 4.

Per Governor Steve Sisolak’s orders, Nevada casinos may only operate at a maximum of 25% capacity.

Lights out at Pennsylvania casinos

If you want to gamble in person in Pennsylvania over Christmas weekend, you are out of luck. Governor Tom Wolf ordered a three-week casino shutdown – among many other venues – starting December 12. This week, Philadelphia health officials extended the city’s restrictions to January 15.

nearly a dozen online sportsbook offerings

Those who are visiting the state regardless can still gamble online. Most of the Keystone state’s 13 casinos have online casino apps. There are also nearly a dozen online sportsbook offerings, including one from BetMGM that just went live this week.

PokerStars is the only online poker room up and running in Pennsylvania. Along with its regular tournaments and cash games, it is hosting the $200 buy-in “Pennsyl-MANIA” tournament with a prize pool of $500,000 on December 27.

Massachusetts casinos open, but not 24/7

The three casinos in Massachusetts are open, but there are strict limitations on how they can operate. When they first reopened, they were permitted to operate at 40% capacity, but on Tuesday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, based on an order from Governor Charlie Baker, cut the maximum capacity to just 25%. The order takes effect a minute after midnight on Saturday and runs through January 10.

And those who decide to visit the casinos should plan to get there early. MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor, and Plainridge Park are required to close each night from 9:30pm to 5:30am, though the casinos have decided not to open right away at 5:30 each morning. The mandate began November 6.

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