The reopening of West Virginia casinos and retail sportsbooks are currently still on hold. That is despite the fact that the Mountain State has started to reopen businesses, it appears residents must wait a bit longer to enter casinos.
While the original plan stated that casinos and other sizable businesses could begin opening up by week three, the governor’s office has slowed the process down.
The third week, beginning on Monday, May 11, marks the opening of just a few establishments.
Drive-in movie theaters, as well as a limited amount of wellness centers, are set to open this week. These fitness centers must be operated by licensed health providers and supply physical therapy and post-op rehabilitation.
Instead of continuing the initial plan of expanding the number and types of businesses each week, state officials have hit the brakes.
WV’s coronavirus response coordinator, Dr. Clay Marsh, discussed the decision with the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
“We have reduced the aggressiveness of some of the reopenings. We’re going to see how things play out for a week or so.”
Of course, every state is looking to reopen and get back to normal, but determining the proper process is tough.
Both Texas and Georgia started returning to normal and have each seen an increase in new coronavirus cases.
WV casino operators are eager to open their doors again. The state is still without online casino gambling, so they’re not currently bringing in any revenue at the moment.
The same holds true for the majority of WV sportsbooks. Only the Hollywood Casino and The Greenbrier have licenses for online sports betting apps. The three other retail sportsbooks must reopen in order to start accepting wagers again.
Reopening WV Casinos
Even though WV is one of the least affected locations in the country, precaution must be taken moving forward. Marsh talked about how Gov. Jim Justice’s original six-week plan may have to be more drawn-out.
“We want to make sure we’re giving enough time to see the real effect from a health and well-being standpoint.”
Marsh, vice president for health sciences at WVU, said it takes between 10-14 days to start seeing how reopenings affect COVID-19 figures.
Casinos, along with many other larger businesses, are hoping the beginning phases go well. Other places waiting to resume work include:
- Office buildings
- Government buildings
- Specialty retail shops
- Dine-in restaurants
The Governors Office is announcing the specific businesses that are permitted to reopen on a weekly basis. Every Monday, they will post what’s on the list for the week and the requirements in order to do so.
Residents can access this information by going to a website dedicated to information about the process, West Virginia Strong – The Comeback.
The page has already updated and shows the addition of another week. Week 7 begins on Monday, June 8.
When the state’s casinos will open remains to be seen.
According to Randy Burnside, Assistant Director of the WV Lottery, Gov. Justice and public health officials will provide an opening date one week prior to the reopening of casinos and Limited Video Lottery locations.
Along with start dates, Burnside indicated there will also be guidance on safety measures when the time comes.
“The Governor’s Office, and our public health officials, will announce an opening date and provide guidance on safety measures one week prior to the re-opening of our casinos and limited video lottery locations.”
While there is hope for these types of businesses, there is no plan in place for activities involving groups of people. Regular movie theaters, concert venues, and sporting events are shut down for the foreseeable future.
However, Justice did say he’s aiming for a June 1 start for youth sports like Little League baseball.
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Casino Safety Measures
When casinos and retail sportsbooks do open, expect them to look and operate differently than before. They will need to take plenty of precautions to create a safe environment for guests.
In fact, some Atlantic City casinos have already come up with a health and safety plan. The Garden State’s MGM Resorts, the owner of the Borgata Hotel And Casino, implemented a blueprint to help protect both guests and employees.
Obviously social distancing will remain in effect, but there are several other steps, as well, including:
- Daily temperature checks for all employees
- Employees must wear masks
- Guests will receive free masks and are encouraged to wear them
- Slot machines, tables, and kiosks must be cleaned often
- High-traffic areas will feature hand washing and sanitizing stations
- Poker rooms may not open initially
- Medical personnel on staff to help respond if someone tests positive for COVID-19
- Limits on how many people can use an elevator at once
- Digital check-ins for hotel guests
Dr. Terrence Reidy, health officer of the Berkeley-Morgan County Board of Health, expressed his concern about the rush to reopen. According to WV MetroNews, Reidy said:
“We just want to be sure people understand the virus hasn’t changed even if the regulations have changed.”
This is a very difficult time, but if people take the right precautions, casinos and sportsbooks can return back to normal soon.