he lockdown restrictions that have been imposed in Puerto Rico expire on June 15. Casino operators are now looking forward to finding out whether the new announcements by Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced will include the gambling industry in the next phase of the country’s reopening plan.
The general manager of the largest casino in Puerto Rico, Ismael Vega, said they are tirelessly working to adapt their premises inside the San Juan Sheraton Hotel so that they are in compliance with the safety policies and social distancing measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
"The protocols we have implemented — a reduction in the number of guests per table and the redistribution of our slot machines to allow for proper social distancing, among others— mean we will be operating at a reduced capacity. I do not believe we will be able to recover in 2020", the general manager of Casino Metro told Yogonet. The video below shows the readaptation works that have been made.
Ismael Vega has 10+ years of experience in the casino industry in Puerto Rico. "The short-term impact [of COVID-19] is economic. Since the beginning of the lockdown until today, the sector has lost approximately US$ 75 millIon. This loss is also affecting the government, as the tax collection derived from this activity funds, for instance, the University of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Tourism Company."
Will you implement a rotation system for the machines you have at your casino?
There will be no rotations, most of the slot machines on the gaming floor are ours. For those machines of which we have joint property, we have reached agreements with the manufacturers.
Which games have you added?
In the area where we hold the Metro Stage Live shows, we removed seven gaming tables and added 25 slot machines.
In the face of the suspension of live shows, are you considering to offer any form of online entertainment?
Our online presence is pretty solid. During the lockdown, we have capitalized on that engagement with our followers and customers. We offer the best Metro Stage Live I and II concerts: a series of performances by local and international artists. We also live-stream weekly concerts that take place at Casino Metro. We also host virtual bingo every week, which moderated by local TV star, Alex DJ.
Even though a reopening date has not been set yet, some measures have already been put in place: guests will be required to wear face masks, use hand sanitizers, and undergo temperature checks. "I believe that when we are finally able to recover from this emergency state, we will go back to our old habits. We are social animals. Although social networks bring us together, they cannot replace face-to-face experiences," Vega concluded.