The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has published new measures designed to allow casinos in the state to safely reopen following the shut-down enforced due to novel coronavirus (Covid-19).
The guidelines set out the minimum requirements that must be fulfilled before the PGCB will allow a casino to recommence activities.
“As conditions throughout the Commonwealth improve and the reopening of casinos is authorised, the PGCB desires to assure that re-openings occur in a manner which promote the safety of casino patrons and employees alike as well as assure an environment conducive to proper regulatory oversight,” PGCB executive director Kevin O’Toole said.
To protect guests and staff, all patrons and employees must wear masks when inside a casino property.
Sanitizer stations must be installed at each entrance to the casino for use by staff and guests, while floor markings to encourage social distancing should be placed throughout the property.
Employees will undergo specialist training to ensure they are made aware of the new measures, as well as have their temperature checked each time they enter the building. In addition, all casinos must appoint a pandemic safety officer to ensure compliance with all measures.
Casinos will also be required to enhance cleaning protocols throughout their facility, with cleaning staff to be provided with the relevant equipment, while all public and back-of-house areas should be cleaned frequently.
The PGCB also insisted on certain social distancing measures for slot machines, including installing a plexiglass barrier between terminals, removing chairs from certain machines and disabling some machines to allow for safe spacing. All slot machines must also be cleaned frequently and sanitizer wipes made available to guests.
In terms of table games, social distancing measures must also be put on place so that people are not sat immediately next to one another, while crowds will not be permitted to gather at tables. Casinos should develop protocols for chips, dice and other gaming devices to be cleaned on a regular basis.
Poker rooms will not be permitted to operate for the foreseeable future due to the amount of contact between players and their chips and cards, while valet services must also remain suspended until further notice.
The PGCB said that sportsbooks can reopen, but only if configured in a manner to promote social distancing and a high level of hygiene, with regular cleaning and the availability of sanitising products to guests.
Casinos in the state must inform the PGCB about how they intend to address all of these requirements before they are permitted to reopen. The PGCB did not set a date for when casinos will be permitted to resume activities.
“While these guidelines for casino operations will be subject to amendment as we move closer to a time of reopening, we believe this plan will be effective in mitigating and reducing the risk of exposure to Covid-19 for all employees, patrons, and other guests,” O’Toole said.
“We fully anticipate that we will work with the industry as it seeks to become, once again, an economic engine for Pennsylvania and to restore the first-rate entertainment facilities each of our licensees have developed.”
Pennsylvania follows a number of other states in setting out how casinos can safely reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. Louisiana Governor, John Bel Edwards last week said the state would enter Phase One of its ‘Roadmap to a Resilient Louisiana’, permitting casinos to reopen subject to certain measures.
Earlier this month, the Nevada Gaming Control Board issued its health and safety guidelines for casinos to reopen after closing in March.
This week, Las Vegas casinos also partnered the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, the Culinary Health Fund and the Las Vegas Convention Center to test all gaming employees for coronavirus before they return to work.