When COVID-19 first entered the US and forced casinos to halt their operations, it was expected that, perhaps, the virus would be around for only a couple of months. That has turned into a year and counting, but it seems as though the worst may be over. Casino operators have been anxiously waiting for the ability to take their properties back to 100%, and some in Nevada, New York and New Jersey are already there or close to it. Pennsylvania can now add its name to that list, with Governor Tom Wolf declaring Memorial Day as the day casinos in the state can resume normal operations.
Pennsylvania Casinos Ready to Recover
Wolf announced this past Tuesday that all COVID-19 restrictions in the state are going to be lifted as of Memorial Day, May 31. The only exception is the use of masks in public spaces, which will come as soon as more than 70% of the state’s 18-and-older population is vaccinated. Currently, the percentage stands at around 42%, according to data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday. Even bars and restaurants in Pennsylvania are returning to normal as of the end of the month.
There is one caveat for the state casinos, however, that still needs to be clarified. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board can take more restrictive measures, as can city leaders. This could potentially harm two casinos in Philadelphia, Rivers Casino and Live! Casino, which are at the whim of the city’s Health Commissioner, Thomas Farley. If he doesn’t act in time, those two venues won’t be able to reopen on Memorial Day. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, as of yesterday, Farley had not responded.
Casinos Rapidly Coming Back to Life
Four of the six casinos in Maryland are back to 100% capacity and the gaming revenue in the state is better than it was in 2019. Many casinos in Nevada have been given the go-ahead to return to 80-100% of their normal capacities and have quickly rebounded, as well. New York State followed shortly after Nevada, and New Jersey is ending its COVID-19 restrictions as of May 19. The changes in these states, as well as in others, are indications that the US is possibly close to leaving the coronavirus pandemic behind.
Pennsylvania’s leaders are ready for the upcoming changes and to put the state back in order. Representative Bridget Kosierowski said in a statement, “Lifting mitigation orders on Memorial Day and announcing that masking orders will be lifted once 70 percent of Pennsylvania’s adults are fully vaccinated are all benefits from following the scientific medical research and data. Many sacrifices had been made over the past year while we waited for help.” While it’s been a challenging time for everyone, it’s time to learn from the past and move into the future.