West Virginia Casinos Draw Massive Crowds As They Reopen With Safety Protocols

Written By Chris Imperiale on June 19, 2020
WV casino - Mountaineer

As the state of West Virginia continues to open back up, many businesses are now up and running. This includes the five casinos in West Virginia, which reopened their doors on Friday, June 5.

Although every casino has new safety protocols in place, this didn’t deter bettors.

On the first day casinos reopened, WV residents and others from nearby states showed up in masses. At the Mountaineer Casino, over 1,700 people were allowed inside, while hundreds of others had to wait outside.

The casino could only allow in this amount due to the new regulations. Every casino’s capacity is now capped at just 50% until further notice.

Mountaineer opened at 10 am, but that didn’t stop people from arriving much earlier. A line actually started to form around 4 am.

Vice President and General Manager Jason Pugh was excited to have guests return to Mountaineer Casino. According to WTOV9, Pugh said:

“A lot of regulars we consider our family members, so we got the full executive team greeting everyone as they come through the doors, so it’s been a little celebration.”

This is a great moment for just about everyone in the state. Residents can now leave their homes and enjoy a place where they can have fun, while casinos and the state start to earn gambling revenue again.

The shutdown due to COVID-19 has certainly impacted the state’s budget. Even though bettors could wager through any of the online sports betting apps, WV doesn’t feature any mobile casinos yet.

Now that retail casinos and sportsbooks can start accepting bets again, the state will begin to see some profits come in.

WV Casinos Reopen

While casinos reopening benefits those within WV, it also affects others in the surrounding states. Since most places around the country aren’t nearly as open as the Mountain State, a lot of bettors made the trip to WV.

Similar to offering online sportsbooks, states that have betting services first tend to get some attention from bettors in nearby locations.

As WV casinos reopened, there were plenty of out-of-state guests in attendance.

Cleveland native Pat Grime visited Mountaineer Casino with a group on the first day it opened back up. He said:

“We thought, ‘we are going to take a road trip.’ We are tired of being at home, tired of doing nothing. We got together four of us.”

Plenty of groups from other states decided to drive to WV, too.

Anna Beckett, from Campbell, Ohio, was more than happy to return to a casino. She said:

“We have been itching to go gambling, and that’s the reality. It’s been just too long. We need to get out, we need to go do something. I cannot stand being home any longer.”

The Hollywood Casino in Charles Town had similar results. General Manager Scott Saunders discussed the types of crowds he witnessed. According to Fox 5 Washington DC, he said:

“Anecdotally, we’ve had quite a few people from Ohio. Seeing a lot of Maryland people, a lot of Virginia people, Pennsylvania.”

Of course, every casino could only let in 50% of its usual customers, but this quick start is a great sign for business. It’s quite possible that a lot of gamblers chose not to return to a casino yet for safety reasons.

However, based on the crowds seen in the first week, it appears guests are happy with the protocols in place.

WV Casino Safety Measures

If you’re planning to visit one of the WV casinos, you should be prepared for all the new precautions in place. Besides there being fewer casino games to play, there are a couple of other notable changes.

The most important safety measure is taken before you even walk inside. Prior to being allowed in, guests must have their temperature taken at the entrance. You’ll also be asked a few questions regarding your health and if you’ve been around anyone else with the coronavirus recently.

All guests are encouraged to wear a mask, although, they are not required in most places. If you’re wearing one, you will have to remove it momentarily while showing your identification, though. Customers can access any of the hand-sanitizing stations positioned throughout the casino during business hours.

The other massive difference inside the casinos is the social distancing rules. Everyone is asked to maintain a safe distance from others when they can.

In order to enforce these rules, casinos have limited the number of slots and people allowed at each table game. Hollywood’s Saunders said:

“We have separated our slots to create more space in between them. We have physically moved some, we have turned some off.”

In addition to fewer games to play on the casino floor, some of the table minimums have been raised. They were listed at $25 last week.

Another major change is the fact that all the casinos must actually close for a period of time overnight for deep cleaning.

A woman from Maryland was pleased with her experience. She told Fox 5:

“My first time back. Celebrating my birthday this week, so I thought I’d come on up. Everybody’s social distancing, they have it set up very nicely.”


Image from Mountaineer Casino’s Facebook page.

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Chris Imperiale

Chris Imperiale is currently the Managing Editor of Catena Media's US online lottery site, PlayiLottery. He used to be the Managing Editor of PlayWV, covering the sports betting and online casino industries in the Mountain State. He has a journalism degree from Rutgers University and was formerly on staff at Bleacher Report.

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