Maryland Casinos Asked for More Virus Risks Transparency

Maryland casinos began re-opening in June and as of mid-November there are at least 133 casino workers who tested positive for the coronavirus, reports a local media asking for more transparency.

No Public Information Reports

The information received after a series of public records requests to the Maryland Lottery & Gaming Control Agency showed at least 60 of the total positive cases are since the beginning of October. No such information could be obtained from the casinos, while state and local health departments do not publicly report virus cases among casino workers or patrons.

The Maryland Department of Health and Prince George’s County Department of Health do not require public reporting of cases at MGM National Harbor casino in Oxon Hill, and the Anne Arundel County Department of Health overseeing Maryland Live! Casino refused to respond to requests for information regarding public reporting of virus cases among casino workers.

Out of all six casinos approached for information about how many of their employees have tested positive for the virus and what protocol they have instituted to mitigate the risks, only Rocky Gap Casino returned a response.

A casino spokeswoman noted to the media that health information about team members is not disclosed, while confirmed virus cases are reported for community contact tracing. The casino then follows internal tracing protocols to identify any team members who may have been in contact with the infected employee, and after the identification, they are subjected to testing. A thorough sanitization of the infected team member’s work area is conducted, while infected employees may only return back after a negative test.

Casinos Experiencing Pent-Up Demand

The six casinos in Maryland are currently operating at reduced capacity, besides implementing a series of measures aimed at mitigating the virus transmission risk including plexiglass dividers, reduced number of slot machines and mask mandates. According to the reports from the state regulator, casinos have earned nearly $140 million a month in revenue since reopening in June, approaching pre-closure levels.

Yet, recent board meetings of the Maryland Lottery & Gaming Control Agency revealed sizeable risks inside the gaming establishments. In one of the cases, crowding at MGM National Harbor was flagged by the agents who saw lack of social distancing near the bar and drink service. The agency also reported a series of physical altercations taking place regularly at MGM, and several times at Maryland Live! and Horseshoe Baltimore casinos.

Maybe it is time for the state to consider ways to provide transparency regarding the number of employees infected with the virus at every casino, as this would be useful information for customers before making their mind which casino to visit, the media investigation concludes.

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