Mississippi Regulator Announces Casino Re-Open Date, Provides Re-Opening Guidelines

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The Mississippi Gaming Commission issued a 5-page industry letter of guidelines for casinos in the state, informing them they can re-open May 21, in line with St. Gov. Tate Reevesannouncement casinos may be up and running before Memorial Day, but starting operations with half of their capacity.

Screening and Risk Assessment

The comprehensive list of guidelines sent to casino operators in the Magnolia State starts with a questionnaire aimed at customers during their initial screening before entering the property, seeking to determine whether someone has been in close contact with an infected relative or friend, as well as whether the initial symptoms of the disease are present. A negative response to all questions guarantees an entry into the casino.

Guests will be encouraged to use hand sanitizers and wear masks inside the casinos. Once inside, a physical distancing rule of at least 6” between guests shall be in place, with marked waiting areas or lines and staff stationed to enforce the rule. Signage in any area of customers’ queues will be placed to remind guests to stay apart from each other.

Cleaning and Disinfection Protocols

Casinos will need to implement cleaning and sanitizing protocols by regularly deploying staff for cleaning and disinfecting high frequency touch points, at least once every two hours. Staff deployed would be trained to properly treat the areas of risk for disinfection. Casino areas should be deeply treated section by section on a daily basis, by closing the designated section overnight.

Regarding table games, casinos will re-open with maximum of three players per table, the middle and the two corner seats remaining only. Players will be encouraged to avoid touching the cards when it is not necessary, and use hand sanitizers when they need to have contact with the cards.

Slot machines should be configured as per the physical distancing rule by switching off some and removal of their chairs, and members of staff monitoring the areas to avoid gathering of people. Operational slots should be sanitized every four hour at the minimum.

Dealers and Supervisors Assigned Sanitizing Tasks

Dealers will have to sanitize dice for each new shooter, on/off button when entering the game, as well as the exterior of the card shoe when entering and the interior of it when the game goes dead. Supervisors will have to sanitize card shufflers every four hours, with cleaning staff deployed for every roulette dealer change to sanitize wheel head, ball and dolly.

No entertainment or special events shall be permitted, as well as any table game that cannot be conducted in accordance with the physical distancing rule. Player’s Club may re-open following the distancing rule but VIP lounge will remain closed. Poker rooms will also remain closed for the time being.

The announcement from the state regulator was welcomed by casino operators, with Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association, Larry Gregory, expressing confidence the implementation of the comprehensive list of measures can be accomplished, as all 26 casinos in the state are eager to return their staff back to work.

There are more than 20,000 casino employees in the state that have been placed on furloughs since mid-March who are also waiting to be recalled by their employers.

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