ith no reopening date yet, Wind Creek Bethlehem in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania is developing plans for when the circumstances allows it to restart after 45 days of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Those plans are meant for when the casino “can provide guests and team members a fun and exciting experience without taking irresponsible public health risks,” Wind Creek Hospitality President and CEO Jay Dorris wrote in a message posted to the casino’s website Tuesday night, as reported by The Morning Call.
The reopening will occur in phases, Dorris wrote, kicking off with a soft reopening, where small groups of invited guests will test the site’s new policies and procedures. In addition to limiting the number of guests, the casino will step up sanitization and increase the use of personal protective equipment by employees.
Once Wind Creek believes it can accommodate more guests, it will reopen to the public through a new reservation system. That will allow guests to reserve a day and time in advance, so the casino can limit the number of people on the property, Dorris said.
Most casinos across the state and country are making similar plans. Some are preparing to scan patrons’ temperatures at the door. Others are planning to use only one-third or half their slot machines. At some, every other table could be closed, and there could even be plexiglass barriers between dealers and customers.
In Pennsylvania, Mount Airy Casino Resort in Monroe County confirmed it is working on reopening plans, which will be shared once finalized. The facility will open its Golf Club this Saturday, with social distancing policies in effect that include a limitation of one person per golf cart.
In that state, where there are 12 casinos employing more than 16,000 people, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is working with operators on how to reopen in a manner that would ensure guest and employee safety, board spokesman Doug Harbach said.
“We are following the governor’s plans for reopening of businesses, but it is not possible at this juncture to predict a timetable for that to occur or all of the mitigation tasks that will be performed,” he said Wednesday. “It continues to be fluid and a work in progress.”
While some of the casinos in the state have implemented unpaid furloughs for employees, Wind Creek is paying its roughly 2,400 workers through the end of May. The facility also paid its $2.5 million quarterly host fee as scheduled this month — $2 million to Bethlehem; $500,000 to Allentown — though the state Revenue Department had given casinos the option of deferring the first payment.
The closures have had an unsurprising effect on gambling revenue. Wind Creek, which closed to the public March 15, reported total gambling revenue last month of $14.7 million, down 71% from about $51 million a year earlier.
Once Wind Creek reopens, patrons also will notice reduced capacity in the site’s restaurants to allow for proper distancing and changes to the facility’s self-service food areas, Dorris wrote. Guests also will be limited in retail outlets, and changes are on tap for the hotel, valet parking and entertainment venues.