Gov. Jim Justice announced the state’s guide to safely reopening casinos in his latest update to the plan called West Virginia Strong – The Comeback. West Virginia casinos are on schedule to open their doors on June 5.
Several other businesses have already begun to reopen in the Mountain State and around the country.
With retail casinos closed for over two months, sports betting revenue has been handcuffed in the state. WV still doesn’t feature mobile casino apps, so the state budget saw zero profits from casino gambling during this time.
Thankfully, WV online sports betting apps have been available throughout the stoppage. Multiple sports are working their way back, and a lot of the major leagues are getting plans in place.
The NHL just announced its newest proposal to finish out its season on Tuesday.
As every casino in the state reopens, guests and employees must take the proper precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Justice’s guide for casinos provides requirements for guests and employees to ensure public safety.
Let’s take a closer look at how casinos intend to reopen and what guests should expect as they get back to gambling.
Safely reopening WV casinos
Every casino located in the state must follow the state’s guidance as they start to reopen with limited services. Casinos are allowed to open back up, however, they are not forced to do so.
Individual establishments can also implement their own series of rules in addition to the provided guidelines.
The biggest change is in regards to how many customers are allowed inside of the casino. New regulations now restrict the maximum occupancy to 50% of the usual capacity.
Besides limiting the number of guests, those inside casinos must practice social distancing. Visitors are asked to stay at least six feet from one another and to follow signage as to not create any unnecessary interactions.
All areas of the casino floor will be impacted including:
- Table games
Seating and gaming layouts will be adjusted to create at least six feet between players. Physical barriers may also be utilized to reduce contact between guests.
Some games may simply be turned off to help enable better social distancing.
All table games will reduce the number of gamblers permitted at each table. It’s quite possible that casinos use both plexiglass and plastic shields to separate players and dealers.
While it might vary per each casino, it’s also a possibility that some table games might not be available immediately. Favorites like poker and hold’em may be restricted because customers must touch the cards.
Dice, as well as chips, will be cleaned after each customer’s use. Tables that are unoccupied should be used to cycle chips to allow for more cleaning.
WV Casino Safety
There are several other safety and cleaning protocols put into place by the Justice administration. The guidelines read that video lottery machines should be cleaned by staff consistently.
It also says that casino guests might be asked to wipe down certain surfaces after using them. Table game railings and chairs are among the other areas of concern that should be cleaned after each customer.
Customers are encouraged to make non-cash payments as often as possible. There are multiple other places regarded as “touch points” that must be cleaned and sanitized frequently. They include:
- Point of sale equipment
- Light switches
- Table surfaces
- Redemption units
Other common areas will either be closed or limited to both guests and employees.
Even though guidelines should have everyone at an appropriate distance, casino workers and customers are encouraged to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when applicable.
The only time you could be asked to remove your facemask is when initially entering the casino. Security checks may require that you show your face to confirm your identity with a government-issued ID.
Casinos will include extensive signage on health policies and specific CDC documentation to educate on the best practices regarding COVID-19.
If someone within the facility appears to have symptoms, the casino must have a plan in place to work with local health officials when necessary.
WV casino worker and employee protections
Keeping casinos clean will be crucial to making the environment safe, but nothing is more vital than screening everyone who enters. Both customers and employees will be checked for coronavirus symptoms as they come into casinos.
Along with temperature checks, everyone looking to come into the casino will be asked the following:
- Have you been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case?
- Are you experiencing a cough, sore throat, or shortness of breath?
- Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?
- Do you have a new loss of taste or smell?
- Have you had vomiting or diarrhea in the last 24 hours?
Entrances will most likely be limited to a single door where touchless entry will be used as often as possible. Doors and windows will remain open where possible, though, as to enhance ventilation.
Entry points should be equipped with sanitizing stations, too.
As mentioned, some casinos might ask guests to clean some gaming equipment before and after each use. Appropriate cleaning materials will be available.
There will also be additional trash receptacles especially provided for wipes and gloves. All beverages served inside the casino will come in original containers or disposable cups.
As far as staff requirements go, all workers must wear proper protection, including face masks. Every employee will also receive training on CDC guidelines about PPE and safe gaming practices.
Now that the guidelines are in place and a date has been set, all that is left is to rehire employees and train them. That is a pretty significant task with the first opening date under a week away.
Loss of revenue is a huge motivator, though, and undoubtedly the casinos have been preparing for this moment for months.