reater Philadelphia’s casino industry is starting to restart operations as counties move into the green phase of Covid-19 recovery, after nearly three months of temporary closures.
Montgomery County’s Valley Forge Casino Resort and Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack in Chester both reopened Friday morning, and Parx Casino in Bensalem joined them on Monday. The venues are operating with reduced capacities and modified services while the pandemic continues.
Harrah’s Philadelphia is operating at 50% capacity, with a reduced number of slot machines and restricted capacity at table games, Philadelphia Business Journal reports. Employees and guests are required to wear masks, while staff will also undergo temperature scans upon entry. Those with a temperature of at least 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit won’t be permitted in the casino. Sports wagering kiosks are open, whereas the poker room, sportsbook and Topgolf Swing Suite are closed until further notice.
⛑️ We're making safety fun! The Harrah's Clean Team and our showgirls handed out free, custom #HarrahsPhilly face masks to welcome our guests back. Did you get yours?— Harrahs Philadelphia (@HarrahsPHL) June 28, 2020
Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER pic.twitter.com/IL9RN1F0y8
The Chester casino’s racetrack opened June 21 without spectators. For now, races will continue as planned, but with attendees prohibited. Harrah's Philadelphia will be open 24/7. During its temporary closure, the property doubled down on its horse race betting options to boost gaming.
“After over 100 days of closure, we are thrilled to welcome guests back to Harrah’s Philadelphia,” General Manager Chris Albrecht said. “We are focused on the well-being of team members, guests and the community and are striving to create enjoyable experiences that emphasize sanitation and physical distancing practices.”
At Valley Forge Casino, the facility is now open 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The venue, which features a 36,000-square-foot gaming floor, will similarly require staff to wear face coverings and do temperature checks. Facial coverings are only recommended for guests.
Social distancing measures are in effect across the casino floor and the site’s restaurants. Hand sanitizer stations are distributed throughout the property, while enhanced cleaning protocols are in place for high-touch surfaces like door handles, gaming machines, table games, handrails and elevator buttons. In the venue's sportsbook, only every other betting station will be open. Seating is arranged to comply with social distancing guidelines, and single use pencils will be provided for guests.
The wait is over! Our doors are open and we are so excited to welcome all of our guests back! Click the link in the bio for more info on what to expect during your visit. pic.twitter.com/2bp0T3Woah— Parx Casino (@parxcasino) June 29, 2020
The new hours of operation at Parx will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and the casino will operate on a 24-hour schedule on the weekends. Slot machines and table games have been reconfigured to comply with guidelines, and select dining and bar options will reopen with limited hours during the initial reopening phase.
Valet parking won’t be available to guests and entry is limited to certain marked doors at each of the property’s three main entryways. A security officer will greet each visitor, conduct a health screening that includes a contactless thermal camera or infrared thermometer temperature check, and provide hand sanitizer. Also, guests are required to wear masks at all times while on Parx Casino property. Those who refuse will be denied entry.
A reopening date for Rivers Casino Philadelphia has yet to be determined, said Jeff Shurilla, a spokesman for the Fishtown-based facility.
The reopenings come as gaming revenues have dropped across Pennsylvania in the last few months. At the start of the Covid-19 shutdown in March, revenue from the state’s 12 casinos, along with video gaming terminals and fantasy contests, plummeted 51% year-over-year to roughly $153.5 million from $316.3 million in 2019. Overall gaming revenue in May plummeted 79% compared to 2019 year-over-year numbers, and were down 84% in April versus last year’s figures.
Online gaming more than doubled across Pennsylvania during the crisis with more than $55.8 million in online casino-type revenue generated last month versus nearly $24.9 million in March.