Maine and New York States will go their own ways in handling the novel coronavirus pandemic and the restart of the gambling industry in their respective jurisdictions.
New York’s Casinos to Stay Shut for a While Longer
New York has been one of the most heavily impacted states in the United States, experiencing the worst incidence of novel coronavirus infection cases. The problem would have been difficult to handle on its own, but the George Floyd’s riots across the country and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to defund the police department, have worsened the situation as lawlessness rules in the better part of the state.
In light of these events, Governor Cuomo confirmed that gambling venues will remain closed, citing both riots and public health safety as the main concerns. While some positive information has been offered by health experts, Gov. Cuomo is not yet ready to lift the restrictions and allow casinos to return to business.
Maine Eyes a Return of Gambling venues
Meanwhile, in Maine, the governor and local health authorities have drafted an agreement on how to restart businesses, casinos included, and maintain public health and safety. Maine only operates two casinos, but the properties are an important part of the state’s revenue.
Therefore, officials have approached the issue of their restart with the utmost care. For starters, the casinos will only be able to house up to 200 people at a time, reducing the overall capacity of the venues drastically.
Meanwhile, Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck has acknowledged the challenge of restarting the casino industry in the state and making it sustainable. In other words, enforcing safety measures is easy, but if those safety measures lead to casinos operating at a loss, then the industry would simply opt out of reopening.
Healthy Protocols Agreed Upon in Maine
Safety measures will follow in the best examples from the country, including obligatory face coverings and social distancing of six feet at slot machines and table games. Maine’s casinos use a centralized network of slots that allows the operators to switch off machines from the grid and enforce social distancing without making it any difficult for players to comply with the measures.
The Hollywood Casino Bangor will be the first property to reopen in the state and most likely on Friday. The Oxford Casino hasn’t revealed a reopening date as of the moment of reopening. Meanwhile, Jack Sours, General Manager at the Oxford Casino has said that the casino will come up with a set of health and safety measures allowing it to manage the influx of people and mitigate risk of infection.
At the beginning of the year, Maine was discussing whether sports betting should be regulated in the state but the issue was dropped when the coronavirus outbreak happened shortly after in February.