Pennsylvania Casinos to Reopen as COVID-19 Restrictions Ease

  • Pennsylvania casinos can reopen on January 4 after closing on December 12
  • Rivers Casino Pittsburgh, Hollywood Casino, Meadows Casino and Racetrack will reopen Monday
  • Casinos will still need to operate at a maximum capacity of 50%
  • Positive virus cases have been declining, leading to the rolling back of restrictions
Person hanging "OPEN Business as New Normal" sign on door
Commercial casinos in Pennsylvania can reopen starting January 4 after Governor Wolf announced an easing of COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place since December 12. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Opening once more

A number of Pennsylvania casinos have announced their plans to reopen following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the state.

All commercial casinos in the state had to close their operations on December 12 in an effort to curb rising virus cases. The lone Philadelphia casino had to close on November 20 because of a high incidence rate of the virus in the city at the time.

current restrictions will expire on January 4 at 8am

Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced on Wednesday that the current restrictions will expire on January 4 at 8am. 

Some of the commercial casinos to already announce that they plan to reopen on Monday include Rivers Casino Pittsburgh and Penn National Gaming’s Meadows Casino and Racetrack in Washington County and Hollywood Casino at the Penn National Race Course in Dauphin County.

Safety protocols in place

Rivers Casino Pittsburgh will be open 24/7, with restricted hours for indoor dining and a maximum capacity of 50% across the property. There will be no alcohol served in the sportsbook or on the casino floor. The poker room will also reopen, albeit with curtailed hours. Nearly 1,100 employees will be able to get back to work because of the casino reopening. 

The regular COVID-19 health and safety protocols will remain in place, such as mandatory mask wearing, social distancing, and temperature checks for staff and patrons. 

Penn National Gaming has already agreed to continue live racing in the state through January, provided it achieves break-even pari-mutuel handle.

An improving situation

According to Governor Wolf’s announcement on Wednesday, virus cases have been declining in Pennsylvania, leading to a pulling back of restrictions. He said: “Our mitigation efforts over the past several weeks are working, and I thank everyone who abided by the restrictions put in place to protect us.”

Other businesses that will be able to reopen at 50% capacity starting January 4 include museums, gyms, and theaters. Tribal casinos did not have to follow the governor’s shutdown order, but some did to help with the COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Commercial casino executives in the state had sent a letter to the governor the day before the announcement of the December restrictions, pleading with Governor Wolf to keep casinos open.

The letter referred to the $1.5bn in tax revenue that the casinos generate in the Keystone State, as well as the local investment of $500m annually. Sports betting, casino games, and poker were all available online to state residents during the closure of land-based facilities.