The City of Philadelphia lifted its indoor mask mandate on Friday. Now, masks are not required for vaccinated visitors at all Pennsylvania casinos.
Nearly a year to the day since the first Pennsylvania casinos started to reopen due to an unprecedented three-month closure to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the gambling industry in the state looks as close to back to normal as possible.
No masks if vaccinated at PA casinos
Shortly after the CDC’s announcement in May that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear indoors, some PA casinos followed suit. However, throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the City of Philadelphia waited a few weeks to loosen restrictions.
It meant that the two casinos within the city’s limits, Live! Casino Philadelphia and Rivers Casino Philadelphia, lagged behind their competitors. The casinos were especially hampered by not being able to offer alcohol on the gaming floor until April 2021. In addition to no masks, drink service has returned to all PA casinos.
No masks if fully vaccinated when visiting any Pennsylvania casinos:
- The Meadows
- Rivers Casino Pittsburgh
- Valley Forge Casino
- Harrah’s Casino Philadelphia
- Hollywood Casino
- Presque Isle Downs
- Lady Luck Nemacolin
- Mount Airy Casino
- Mohegan Sun Pocono
- Wind Creek Casino
- Live! Casino Pittsburgh
- Live! Casino Philadelphia
- Rivers Casino Philadelphia
When it comes to masks, Pennsylvania casinos use the honor system
From personal experience visiting some Pennsylvania casinos that allow guests to not wear a mask, they are using the honor system. At some casinos in late May, even with the option to not wear masks, most guests chose to wear one. In June the percentage changed depending on the casino.
Other types of businesses are also using the honor system when it comes to mask wearing. However, especially after the initial announcement there were questions about possible enforcement.
Asking someone about their vaccination status or to show their vaccination card is not a HIPAA violation for a casino or any business.
Asking for proof of vaccination is not a HIPAA violation
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) doesn’t apply in this circumstance. HIPAA is a federal law designed to protect patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge. Many misunderstand this law.
Lee D. Moylan, a Partner and Chair of the Labor and Employment Law Practice Group at Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg in Philadelphia, explained PA casinos’ updated mask guidelines and the issue of enforcement.
HIPAA is largely in place so a third party, like your doctor, can not give out your private health information without your consent. HIPAA applies only to “covered entities” and does not apply to most businesses.
If a customer at a casino refuses to produce their vaccine card and refuses to comply with local and CDC guidelines then the casino can ask them to leave, noted Moylan. Moylan explained that casinos are private establishments and can set their own health and safety guidelines.
Smoking still not permitted at Pennsylvania casinos
Smoking is currently not permitted at any Pennsylvania casino. All casinos in Pennsylvania have designated areas set up outside for smoking. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in concert with guidelines for mask-wearing at the state’s casinos, put a no indoor smoking rule into effect.
PGCB Director of Communication Doug Harbach commented about smoking at PA casinos:
“Currently, that remains in effect but we are monitoring the situation in relation to any additional changes in guidelines that would enable complete relief of mask wearing.”
Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, says smoking at Pennsylvania casinos should be stopped forever.
“Pennsylvania should join 20 other states that have banned smoking in casinos by making the temporary ban permanent.”
Lead image c/o Mount Airy Casino Resort.