ver the weekend, the intensifying coronavirus outbreak and its unprecedented economic fallout triggered major shutdowns within the casino industry, which go beyond Las Vegas Strip closures by MGM and Wynn Resorts.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced during a Monday morning conference call they are calling for the closure of the state's casinos, gyms and movie theaters at 8 p.m. Monday night. The three governors gave no timetable for when things will reopen.
New York state’s largest casino, Resorts World Catskills, has shut down for at least two weeks due to concerns over coronavirus. The casino’s parent company also shut down its sister location, Resorts World Casino New York City. Rivers Casino Resort in downtown Schenectady has also “suspended operations” due to the virus. It’s also closed its adjacent lodging, the Landing Hotel. Other casinos in the state appear to be operating, but are limiting the number of patrons to comply with a statewide crowd control order.
Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona is open, but is limiting the number of guests. The casino is also configuring its gaming floor to allow for “social distancing,” or the separation of patrons from one another. At del Lago Resort Casino near Waterloo in the Finger Lakes, the latest information, posted Saturday, is that the property and all its dining outlets remain open. But del Lago, like venues across the state, is limiting the number of people inside.
MGM Resorts International announced that it was temporarily closing Empire City Casino in New York, effective last Saturday. The firm anticipated re-opening the venue by March 28, but will continue to re-evaluate the status.
In Connecticut, the Mohegan Sun remained open for gaming but its calendar featuring dozens of upcoming events ranging from an RV & Camping show to an appearance by Adam Sandler and slam-dunk contests centered around March Madness is already filled with cancellations, rescheduling and postponements. Revenue at the resort, which took in $992 during the last fiscal year, was already under pressure from the opening of the Encore in Boston.
Foxwoods, one of the largest casinos in the world with nearly $788 million in revenue last year, has announced that it is closing its high stakes bingo hall, poker tournaments, poker rooms, buffets and live table games. The firm had said electronic table games and slot machines would remain open.
On Sunday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered the state’s casinos, racetracks and simulcast betting facilities to close indefinitely. Massachusetts also closed all of its casinos. Regulators said all three Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino would go dark for at least two weeks from Sunday at 6 a.m. The decision will be re-evaluated in two weeks, said the commission. During the closure, the casinos will undergo a deep clean.
Rhode Island’s Lottery Director ordered the state’s two casinos to stay closed for at least the next week while officials assess when it is going to be safe to reopen them, WPRI Providence reports.
All 10 casinos in Illinois have now been ordered to close up shop for at least a two-week period beginning Monday, Chicago’s WGN reports. The Argosy Casino Alton and Casino Queen operate the Metro East's two casinos. The Argosy had been planning a grand opening Monday for its new sports wagering window, the first in the St. Louis region following Illinois lawmakers' move last year to legalize sports betting.
A head of trade group the Missouri Gaming Association said Friday that casinos west of the Mississippi River planned to keep their gambling floors open while cancelling events and musical acts. Also Friday, Fairmount Park in Collinsville canceled races on Saturdays until further notice. It will host races on its other weekly racing day, Tuesday, though without spectators. The track will make a decision about future races on Wednesday. Wagers on simulcast races will continue every day that's not Tuesday. Crowds in the simulcast area have averaged under 100 people, Fairmount said in an announcement.
Following a brief tug-of-war over the wording of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s ban on large gatherings, all four of Ohio’s casinos capitulated and shut down operations at midnight on Friday, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. One of those Ohio casinos, the Hollywood Columbus, issued a statement saying their facility is now “temporarily closed” while stressing that no cases of COVID-19 have been associated with the resort.
Four of Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos — three in or around Philadelphia and one in Pittsburgh — have closed temporarily over concerns about the coronavirus. The Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania has closed “until further notice” with a statement on their website saying that while there had been no COVID-19 cases at the resort, they decided to shut down “for the health and well-being of our guests and team members.” As of Friday evening two other Pennsylvania casinos, the Rivers Casino on Pittsburgh’s North Side and Harrah’s in Philadelphia, had announced they were planning to close for the next two weeks. The Rivers Casino said they are planning to continue paying their staff during the temporary closure. There was no word yet on the status of the other nine casinos operating in Pennsylvania.
Casinos in Washington state remain open; however, the Silver Reef Casino closed down its buffet as a precaution after state health officials notified the resort that a person who later tested positive for COVID-19 had dined there earlier in the week. In a statement on their website, the Silver Reef said that visit was “limited to the buffet” and all staff who had potentially been exposed to that diner have been notified.
In Oklahoma, which has the second-largest collection of casinos in the country behind Nevada, none of the state’s 134 casinos have closed and spokespersons for the Native American tribes that control most of them have said there are currently no plans to do so and no known cases of COVID-19 associated with any of Oklahoma’s gaming establishments.
The largest of the 62 Native American casinos operating in California – the Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula in Southern California – has decided to close through the end of March while continuing base pay and benefits for resort empolyees. Six of the largest “card clubs” in California, including the Commerce Casino in Commerce where one employee has tested presumptively positive for COVID-19 are shutting down, the Los Angeles Times reports. Another large Native American casino east of Los Angeles – the San Manuel Casino in Highland – has also announced plans to close through the end of March.
In Florida, gaming continued apace over the weekend, the South Florida Sun Sentinal reported, with one casino goer, retired school teacher Rick Barry, telling the paper, with a laugh “I guess we’re gambling.” At the Gulfstream Park race track in Hallandale Beach, thoroughbred races which lead eventually to places in the Kentucky Derby are still being run but spectators have been barred from the stands, although the Sun Sentinel said the casino remains open.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Sunday evening that the Michigan Gaming Control Board will temporarily shut down the three state-regulated casinos in Detroit while the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state climbed to 53. Across the Detroit River, Caesars Windsor also temporarily closed early Monday morning. The shutdown began with the closure of the gaming floor at 4 a.m. Monday and hotel guests will depart by noon, the casino and hotel said in a statement. Upcoming concerts are also being postponed.
The temporary closures do not apply to tribal casinos as the state gaming control board has no direct regulatory authority over those gambling halls. However, Gun Lake Casino announced Sunday it would voluntarily close its Allegan County tribal casino for two weeks, starting at 3 a.m. Monday.
Furthermore, all 14 casinos in the state of Indiana will close for “at least” the next 14 days starting Monday, WGN reports. In addition, Montana’s Great Peaks and Lil Peaks Casinos have closed through the end of this month.
In New Mexico, the governor of the Pueblo of Pojoaque has closed three casinos – Buffalo Thunder, Cities of Gold and Jake’s Casino – on Pueblo territory.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards banned gatherings of 250 or more for a month in response to COVID-19. This ban does include casino’s gambling area. Louisiana State Police consider the vessel, or the gambling area, of the casino as the area applying to the ban. This means no more than 250 individuals total, including employees, can be in the gambling area. Chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, Ronnie Jones has sent a letter to the casinos telling them they were covered by the ban.
Alabama’s Wind Creek Casino in Wetumpka closed just for the day on Sunday in order to conduct a precautionary “deep cleaning” of their facility after learning that a guest who came through three weeks ago has since tested positive for COVID-19. In a statement on their website Wind Creek said they plan to reopen on Monday for business with an emphasis on “social distancing” among patrons and staff.
Arkansas’ Oaklawn Racing Casino in Hot Springs decided to run the Rebel Stakes horse race, which would normally attract 40,000 spectators, without the crowd over the weekend; although, in a statement Oaklawn said their casino and sportsbook “are staying open at this time.”
Wisconsin’s 715Newsroom reports that the half dozen tribal casinos owned by the Ho-Chunk Nation across the state of Wisconsin are operating normally “for the time being.”