Amid growing concern about the coronavirus pandemic, Pennsylvania’s casino properties have been rethinking their strategy. As a result, four out of 12 available properties in the Keystone State have closed – three in Philadelphia and one in Pittsburg.
Specifically, Harrah’s Philadelphia in Delaware County and Valley Forge in Montgomery County have decided to suspend all economic activity until further notice.
Meanwhile, Gov. Tom Wolf has urged people to avoid traveling or visiting locations outside of buying food and medicine. Both Pittsburg and Philadelphia are the two most heavily affected counties in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania’s Counties Affected with COVID-19 – Gaming Takes a Hit
Out of 41 cases of COVID-19 infections, 24 are concentrated in them, alarming the local authorities that more drastic measures are necessary. U.S. President Donald Trump has proposed drive-through testing, which is both an efficient and safe way to test individuals for symptoms or underlying coronavirus infection.
Yet, the defense mechanisms of the virus include a long incubation period, which makes it very hard for humans to detect. Meanwhile, Montgomery County has put restrictions in place as early as Friday, March 13, and the measures will remain in place for two weeks.
Many countries around the world are now subject to a complete, two-week shut-down. Gov. Wolf has also cautioned and urged all conferences and gatherings including over 250 people to be canceled, suspended or postponed.
Traveling to recreational activities is also not advisable, and so gyms, theaters and shopping malls should be avoided. Yet, no direct ban on visiting these venues has been issued.
Rivers Casino Philadelphia is closing voluntarily today, Sunday, March 15, and it will remain closed for 14 days. At the same time, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has been considering a state of emergency that would effectively let the local authorities ban gatherings.
While gatherings and recreational activities are still a divisive topic, officials have agreed to start closing all K-12 schools in Pennsylvania starting tomorrow, Monday, March 16. The closure will stay in place for at least two weeks.
The Gambling Landscape Beyond Indiana Looks Similar
Pennsylvania is not the only state where the gambling industry has been heavily affected. Two of California’s largest gaming properties, to name Pechanga Casino and San Manuel Casino, are also closing down due to the coronavirus outbreak.
While California is not yet suffering from the outbreak, the casinos are taking preemptive measures to try and help contain the spread of the virus, which is hard to detect due to its incubation period, as mentioned before.
Meanwhile, Indiana has ordered all state-licensed racetracks and casinos to close by Monday to fall in line with measures taken nation-wide. However, Tribal Four Winds Plans will buck the trend and stay open.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has also recently banned non-essential gatherings, once again targeting groups of 250 people. Tribal Four Winds will probably manage to scoop up some quick buck as many rival properties will be shutting down.
Illinois and Ohio are two other states where the gaming and sports betting industries have been suspended.
One of the few gaming companies to have taken things in stride remains MGM, which has paid a better dividend for a tenth time in a row, unconcerned about the spread of the coronavirus.