When Pennsylvania’s casinos reopen, those who want to try their luck should be prepared to wear a mask.
The Gaming Control Board laid out the minimum requirements for reopening the state’s 12 casinos on Wednesday. None of them, however, can reopen until they are in a green zone county, and metrics for entering that phase have not yet been finalized.
“As conditions throughout the commonwealth improve and the reopening of casinos is authorized, the PGCB desires to assure that reopenings occur in a manner which promote the safety of casino patrons and employees alike as well as assure an environment conducive to proper regulatory oversight,” said Executive Director Kevin O’Toole.
All of the state’s casinos, including Lady Luck Casino at Nemacolin Woodlands in Fayette County and The Meadows in Washington County, have been closed since mid-March as part of COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
Requiring all patrons to continuously wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth are among the many requirements in the PGCB guidelines.
The board also issued guidance for playing slots and table games.
Slots players may be divided by plexiglass barriers, some chairs may be removed, or certain machines may be disabled to maintain safe distances.
Places frequently touched on table games will be routinely sanitized, as will card shoes, dice and other gaming devices.
Chips will also be cleaned and sanitized on a daily basis, and those not playing will not be able to congregate around the table.
The PGCB noted poker rooms will remain closed indefinitely, as will valet services.
The board’s guidance also discourages hats from being worn in the casino, and notes that those who wear one will be asked to temporarily remove it or their mask while looking at a security camera for identification purposes.
Other guidelines include implementing methods to identify those who may be ill; placing sanitizer stations throughout the facility; floor markings to ensure patrons remain 6 feet apart and enhanced cleaning protocols.
“While these guidelines for casino operations will be subject to amendment as we move closer to a time of reopening, we believe this plan will be effective in mitigating and reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for all employees, patrons, and other guests,” O’Toole said.
He acknowledged that the closures have dealt the industry an “unexpected and unprecedented blow” but said he believed casinos would rebound, safely, once permitted to reopen.
“We fully anticipate that we will work with the industry as it seeks to become, once again, an economic engine for Pennsylvania and to restore the first-rate entertainment facilities each of our licensees have developed,” O’Toole said.
The full guidelines are available on the PGCB’s website, gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov.