Gamblers Wait In Long Lines, Drives For Hours As Casino Reopens Amid COVID Threat

A long line of weary travelers wait to check in to the hotel at the Bellagio Las Vegas, a luxury hotel and casino on the Vegas Strip
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Lousiana and Mississippi casinos will resume operations this week amidst the on-going threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. The reopening of the casinos signals the awakening of the industry from close to two months-long slumbers. The casinos might show how the industry survives in a coronavirus threatened world.

Despite the growing fear of the deadly virus, gamblers are excited to test their luck after months of staying home because of government preventive measures. One gambler, 45-year –old Shirley Matinez, drove for two hours from Houston to Lake Charles, La. To accompany her mother, who is ready to play slots during the reopening on Monday. Shirley’s 85-year-old mother is prepared with her hand sanitizer and mask to play in the casinos.

Louisiana and Mississipi, smaller than venues in Las Vegas and New Jersey’s Atlantic City, are among the biggest gambling market in the country and are scheduled to reopen on Monday and Thursday, respectively. The establishments resumed operation with high hopes that bored gamblers will move out of their houses and play in the casino floors despite the severe threat of the pandemic spreading during social gatherings.

Expert see casinos to recover

The American Gaming Association, an industry trade group, confirmed that all 989 commercial and tribal casinos in the US halted their operations. Commercial casinos in South Dakota and Arkansas, as well as 50 tribal casinos, resumed their activities. The trade group revealed that 82 casinos would reopen by Monday.

Bill Miller, the trade group’s chief executive, said that the experience would be different for some time, but the industry will get its swagger back. The association’s latest report noted that Louisiana, the fifth-largest commercial casino market in the US, collected $2.56 billion in annual revenue in 2018 while Mississippi, ranked 7th, gained $2.14 billion. Nevada, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey remained the top three casino market.

The association said that 13 of the historic Old West town’s 21 casinos resumed May 7. David Ruth, mayor and table games manager at the local Silverado-Franklin hotel and casino, said that he saw gamblers coming from nearby states and faraway places like New York, Florida, Texas, and New Mexico.

Deadwood retains occupancy limit

Mr. Ruth said that the Deadwood casinos continued with their old occupancy limits, but they ensured that social distancing is practiced within the casino. The manager said that the last thing they did was take out someone’s favorite machine. So, they ensure that the machines continue to operate by making nearby tools unavailable for other players once a machine was chosen.

On Monday, in Lake Charles and the Shreveport area, the casinos in Baton Rouge and the New Orleans area suburbs will resume operations. Louisiana reported 34,709 cases of COVID-19, including 2,440 deaths.

Casino regulators are asked to comply with a 25 percent occupancy limit and are asked to operate only 50 percent of the capacity of able-game seats and slot machines available. Gamblers and personnel are required to pass a temperature test before entry to the casinos.

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