Louisiana may become the first state to officially re-start the casino industry, with all land-based gaming facilities in the state allowed to re-open May 18. The 20 commercial and 3 tribal gaming venues in the state will have to subject their plans for risk mitigation and fast response to the police, and if approval is granted, casinos will be back in business, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chairman Ronnie Jones announced on Monday.
Louisiana to Provide the Industry Litmus Test
The size of the gambling market in Louisiana places the state among the top 5, as per 2018 data, and the re-opening of casinos in the state will be a stern test as to how long it will take for the gaming operators to restore their pre-closure levels of gaming activity.
Harrah’s, the only land-based casino in New Orleans that had recently seen its lease extended until 2054, will not be among the first to greet clients, as Caesars announced its re-opening may be delayed due to the significant number of virus infections in the city.
Tribal Casinos Already Operate
Unlike Harrah’s, Caesars Entertainment announced tribal casinos under its management in Arizona and North Carolina will begin operations May 15 and May 18, respectively, with Arkansas, another relatively small gaming market scheduled to re-open May 18. Tribal casinos in several other states, Oklahoma, Idaho and Washington, have already commenced operations, as well as properties in small markets such as South Dakota.
In the past few days large casino operators announced their plans regarding the set of measures they were going to introduce in the casinos and other parts of their properties, to ensure the health and safety of guests and employees.
Safety and Cleaning Protocols
The common theme is the implementation of a social distancing approach by ensuring enough space between slot machines and places on table games. Masks for employees and visitors, as well as extensive cleaning and sanitizing protocols complete the set of measures aimed at preventing the further spread of the infection.
The common belief is that casinos will have to operate with half of their total number of slot machines and maybe delay offering table games, at least at the beginning. Casinos may be back but they will not look the same. Eldorado Resorts CEO Tom Reeg even suggested the health crisis may force the industry to evolve and introduce permanent changes, such as the use of electronic dealer games, to avoid the use of chips and to decrease the direct mail to customers.