Coronavirus Won’t Close PA Casinos, But Tighter Restrictions May Roll In Soon

Posted on November 13, 2020 - Last Updated on November 26, 2020

COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania are at record highs. On Nov. 13, the Pennsylvania Department of Health reported that there were 5,531 new positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 254,387. It is the fourth consecutive day that the state has reported a record number of cases.

Play Pennsylvania asked the PA Department of Health if the rising numbers meant a return to the color-coded phases and possible temporary closures for casinos in Pennsylvania.

A representative responded:

“There is no plan at this time to return to the red, yellow, green mitigation steps and stay-at-home order that occurred in the spring.”

Some tips to slow the spread

The PA Department of Health reiterated that it was very concerned about the increase in cases. The representative said:

“We currently have protections in place, like wearing a mask and limits on large gatherings. Pennsylvanians can stop the spread. It is all of our responsibility to do the right thing. These are things that we can continue to do to stop the spread of COVID-19:

  • Teleworking.
  • Isolating or quarantining if you test positive or have exposure to someone who has.
  • Businesses limiting capacity to 50%.”

More restrictions for Philadelphia?

Of the record number of cases reported on Friday, 1,158 were from Philadelphia. Mayor Jim Kenney’s office did not provide any indication of what its “changes in restrictions” might be and said they are still being finalized. Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley earlier this week said all restrictions are being considered, even a complete lockdown, according to Yahoo! News.

Rivers Casino Philadelphia is currently the only casino within the city limits. Live! Casino Philadelphia is expected to open in early 2021.

Rivers Philadelphia closed in mid-March and reopened on July 17. It experienced the longest closure of all 12 casinos in the commonwealth.

Health and safety protocols at PA casinos

Before you visit a casino in Pennsylvania, there are few things you should know. Your next visit will look different than your previous pre-coronavirus-closure casino excursion. Per the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), all casinos in the state must follow COVID-19 Casino Reopening Protocols, which detail the minimum safety and health-related requirements that are mandatory before reopening.

Key points to remember are:

  • Casinos can reopen at 50% capacity.
  • Employees and guests must wear masks.
  • There are markings on the floor to promote social distancing.
  • Enhanced cleaning is required throughout the facility.

Eating, drinking and smoking at PA casinos

In addition to the increased health and safety measures, some staples of casino visits have been put on a temporary pause.

Alcohol can only be served when food is purchased. Drink service on the casino floor is prohibited.

These new rules went into effect well before the November record-breaking numbers.

Under the guidance of the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the PGCB, there is currently no smoking in Pennsylvania casinos either (effective July 3).

Gov. Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine signed orders that mandated restaurants can’t serve alcohol for on-site consumption past 11 p.m. (effective Sept 21).

Hours of PA casinos

Casinos in Pennsylvania started to close in mid-March to slow the spread of coronavirus. They were closed for over 100 days before the first few started welcoming back guests in June. However, not all returned to around-the-clock operations.

Casinos in PA open 24 hours:

  • Parx
  • Presque Isle
  • Rivers Casino Philadelphia
  • Rivers Casino Pittsburgh (starting Nov. 16)
  • Mount Airy Casino
  • Wind Creek Casino
  • Mohegan Sun Pocono
  • Harrah’s Philadelphia

Hours of other casinos in PA

The Meadows:

  • Sunday-Thursday, 8-4 a.m.
  • Friday-Saturday, 8-5 a.m.

Valley Forge Casino :

  • Monday-Thursday, 10-3 a.m. Open 24 hours, 10 a.m. Friday through 3 a.m. Monday.

Hollywood Casino:

  • Closed daily from 4 to 8 a.m. for deep cleaning.

Lady Luck Nemacolin:

  • Open 24 hours for slot gaming
  • Table games hours:
    Monday-Friday, 3-12 a.m.
    Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m.-12 a.m.

1% of casino employees test positive

The PGCB released figures last week that showed that fewer than 1% of casinos employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since the 12 brick-and-mortar locations opened in June. Rivers Pittsburgh had 28 cases and Parx had 25. A full breakdown can be found here.

Online casinos in PA

If you are 21+ and physically located in Pennsylvania, you don’t even have to leave your home to play. There are now 11 online casinos in Pennsylvania. Things got even livelier this week as Caesars and FanDuel launched online live dealer games.

Lead image credit: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

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Katie Kohler

Katie Kohler is a Philadelphia-area based award-winning journalist. She covers the Pennsylvania gambling industry with an emphasis on sports betting, online casino/poker and the lottery.

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