Welcome Back: Meadows And Rivers Pittsburgh First PA Casinos To Announce Reopening Dates

Posted on June 3, 2020

Welcome back.

The first casinos in Pennsylvania have announced reopening dates. The Meadows Casino in Washington County will open on Tuesday, June 9 at 12 p.m. Rivers Casino Pittsburgh will welcome back guests on June 9 at 9 a.m.

Updated June 4: Lady Luck Nemacolin will welcome guests back Friday, June 12 at 10 a.m.

Rivers Casino Pittsburgh, The Meadows and Lady Luck set to open

In a Wednesday afternoon announcement, Rivers Casino Pittsburgh laid out plans to open their doors which have been closed since March 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Until further notice, the gaming floor and restaurants will be limited to 50% capacity.

Socially distanced seats and slots and table games will be available. As per Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board safety guidelines, there will be no poker to start.

Rivers Pittsburgh posted an update with various questions and answers on their website.

Some main points of the update:

  • Masks are required for entry.
  • 100 hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipe stations throughout the gaming floor.
  • Table game seating has been modified to promote social distancing. There will be four spots at Roulette, three spots at Blackjack, and six spots at Craps. Twelve blackjack tables have been added in the poker room.

Asked about mask-wearing and smoking, Rivers replied on Facebook: “Guests are able to lower their masks while smoking, drinking and eating. We encourage proper social distancing practices during this time and while at Rivers Casino for the safety of all guests and Team Members.”

The Meadows Casino revealed their plans on social media and on a blink-and-you’ll miss it line on their website.

We are pleased to announce that we will be opening our doors with limited offerings on Tuesday, June 9, at 12:00pm….

Posted by The Meadows Racetrack & Casino on Wednesday, June 3, 2020

No mention yet about the race track reopening, as of yet.

Lady Luck Nemacolin later announced plans of reopening a few days after Meadows and Rivers. They will open June 12 at 10 a.m. according to their Facebook page.

PA casinos path to opening

Casinos in Pennsylvania have been closed for over 80 days to slow the spread of coronavirus. Pennsylvania is following a three-phase reopening process that varies by county.

The Meadows, Rivers Casino Pittsburgh, and Lady Luck Nemacolin are in counties moving to the green phase on June 5. In the green phase, casinos are permitted to reopen at 50% occupancy and it must meet the requirements of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Rivers Casino Pittsburgh and Lady Luck Nemacolin have not announced plans to resume operations yet. However, PlayPennsylvania will provide updates.

Casinos currently in the yellow phase and moving to green phase on June 5 (and their counties) are:

  • Rivers Casino Pittsburgh (Allegheny)
  • Lady Luck Nemacolin (Fayette)
  • The Meadows (Washington)

Casinos in the yellow phase (and their counties):

  • Hollywood Casino (Dauphin)
  • Presque Isle Downs (Erie)
  • Mohegan Sun Pocono Casino (Luzerne)
  • Mount Airy Casino (Monroe)

Casinos in red phase, becoming yellow on June 5:

  • Harrah’s Philadelphia (Delaware)
  • Valley Forge Casino (Montgomery)
  • Parx (Bucks)
  • Rivers Casino Philadelphia (Philadelphia)
  • Wind Creek Casino (Northampton)

Impact of PA casino closures

Casinos in Pennsylvania started to close on March 13 to slow the spread of coronavirus. By March 16, all twelve casinos in the state stopped operating. At first, some brick-and-mortar casinos indicated their doors would close for two weeks. However, the dynamic nature of the coronavirus altered plans.

The length of time casinos have remained closed is unprecedented. It has severely impacted casinos’ revenues, taxes, surrounding communities and the people employed by the state’s casinos. The American Gaming Association reports that the casino gaming industry in the state supports more than 33,000 jobs and has a total economic impact of $6.3 billion.

Health and safety plans for casinos

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board released COVID-19 Casino Reopening Protocols,” which details the minimum safety and health-related requirements that are mandatory before reopening.

In addition to operating at 50% capacity, guests visiting a casino in Pennsylvania will be required to wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth. For security reasons, casino personnel will ask patrons to remove their hats or lower their masks upon entrance temporarily.

Other main points include:

  • Markings on the floor to promote six-feet social distancing.
  • Occupancy rates that are sufficient to maintain social distancing guidelines.
  • Hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes available throughout the gaming floor.
  • Enhanced cleaning throughout the facility.
  • Poker rooms are not authorized to operate due to players handling of cards and chips. Poker room operations are subject to change in the future based upon changing CDC and PA DOH guidance.
  • Each casino needs to identify an employee as a pandemic safety officer.
  • The casino staff stationed at entrance points will receive training on recognizing possible signs of illness, and instructed to routinely ask such persons if they have had a fever or contact with anyone with COVID-19 within the past 14 days, and whether they are feeling ill. Affirmative answers to any of the questions will result in refusing admittance to the casino on that day.

PGCB Director of Communication Doug Harbach said they would be on-site to ensure facilities are following COVID-19 protocols. Since systems are restarting, regulators will also check and verify to assure they meet PA gaming law and regulations.

Casinos across the country slowly reopen

As of June 3, 333 of the 989 casinos across the country restarted operations. Three casinos in Delaware – Dover Downs, Delaware Park and Harrington Raceway & Casino – opened on opened on June 1.

The American Gaming Association has been evaluating the reopening process and working with members to ensure a safe resumption of operations for employees and guests. They are also conducting research to gauge guest’s expectations.

Casey Clark, senior vice president of strategic communications at the AGA told PlayPennsylvania:

“It’s starting to sound like a cliche using the word ‘unprecedented’ but it is. We are beginning to see the forrest through the trees and when we can return to some semblance of normal. It’s not just about ‘when,’ it’s about what will make people comfortable to come back to a property and be able to identify that.”

Casinos that have welcomed back guests have provided feedback to the AGA.

“Customers are respecting social distancing and PPE requirements,” said Clark. “People are driving and lining up and there is pent-up demand. American consumers are eager to reengage and we want to provide a healthy, safe, responsible way to offer it to them and the employees.”

Lead image c/o The Meadows twitter page.
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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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