Pennsylvania should have already had casinos open in theory. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) and state governor approved the official opening date for June 5, but no casino rushed to launch at the end of the week. Instead, three casinos are planning to re-start operation this coming week, and they represent less than half of the Keystone State’s 12 operators.
A Set of New Measures to Bind Pennsylvania’s Casinos
The return to business will set a “new normal” for the industry in the state, at least so far as the brick-and-mortar casinos go. Casinos will subject any patrons to temperature checks and use infrared cameras to keep track of potentially ill individuals.
Staff members will also have to wear protective gear, ranging from masks to face shields. Blackjack cards that were previously dealt face down will now only be dealt face up. Card shoes will have to be sanitized daily and so would poker chips.
Previously, Pennsylvania’s casinos didn’t intend to restart table games, but there has been a shift of opinion, supporting the reinstatement of poker, blackjack, and roulette. The PGCB said that casinos would have to be capable of identifying patrons at all times, allowing for quick extraction of potentially sick individuals.
Pennsylvania’s Gaming Reopening for Business
The properties to drive the first foray into the market are Rivers Pittsburgh and the Meadows Racetrack & Casino along with Lady Luck Nemacolin. The first two will open on Tuesday, June 9 with Lady Luck joining them on Friday, June 12.
There is no guarantee that patrons will rush back to casinos, however. All facilities will operate at 50% capacity only, as a second coronavirus wave is feared and businesses are trying to enact contingency plans.
One reason for optimism has been the fact that Pennsylvania’s iGaming verticals are some of the best developed in the entire US. However, revenue has not been sufficient to offset the massive lack of brick-and-mortar activities.
To put things in perspective, gaming revenue was down 84% in April, 2020, compared with the same month in 2019. The tax revenue collected from all gaming verticals the same month amounted to $18.3 million.
Conversely, the revenue going to iGaming products and online gambling jumped by 73% during the month. However, Pennsylvania couldn’t compensate the huge drop from land-based operations as mentioned before. Online poker set an all-time record, too.
With the restart of gaming activities expected with trepidation, it’s unlikely that patrons will return in droves, and not least while COVID-19 is out there. It may take another year before things to go back to normal, assuming another wave doesn’t hit in the meantime.