Pennsylvania Casinos Ordered to Close Amidst COVID-19 Case Increase
A new order in Pennsylvania will close casinos starting this Saturday through early January.
It’s happening again. Casinos are being forced to close around the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to see high positive case counts. This week, a new order was issued in the state of Pennsylvania, ordering all 12 casinos to shut down as of December 12. From that point on, the casinos must remain closed until January 4.
Close Up Shop
After testing positive for COVID-19 this week, Governor Tom Wolf has declared that more action must be done to slow the spread of the virus. The governor announced major coronavirus restrictions across the state for businesses in an effort to mitigate the spread. Included in the mix of businesses affected are casinos.
Wolf explained that with these new measures in place, the state hopes to accomplish three goals. First, they want to stop the spread of the virus. Secondly, the hope is that the hospitals and healthcare workers will get some what of a break and not be strained due to the overwhelming number of patients.
Lastly, the state is hoping that residents will be able to get through the holiday season unscathed and safely, as the vaccine becomes more available to everyone.
The Rivers Casino located in Philadelphia was already forced to close back in November based on orders from the city. Live! Casino Pittsburgh just opened its doors in late November and will have to shut down like the other gambling venues.
The reopening date is set for January 4 at 8 am Eastern time. It is unclear as to if the casinos will actually get to reopen on this date. If the case counts continue to rise and people to not adhere to social distancing and mask wearing, the closures may continue.
Significant Spike in Cases
The state of Pennsylvania has seen a large increase in COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks. Along with the increase in cases, there has been an increase in deaths as well. Dr. Racheal Levine is the Secretary of Health for the state who recently said that a two day period earlier in the week resulted in the highest number of deaths since the pandemic began.
Dr. Levine pointed out that the virus is straining the healthcare systems as well as causing a rise in positive cases among all age groups, even school children. This is an alarming factor that must be reversed.
Wolf pointed out that as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says, indoor entertainment gatherings are a higher risk activity. Casinos are considered an indoor entertainment activity and have been grouped in with other businesses of the same type including museums, concert venues, bowling alleys, private clubs, arcades, theaters, and others.
Even though the casinos were limited to certain restrictions, including a reduction in visitor capacity, the gaming industry did well since reopening back in June. For the third quarter of this year, gross gaming revenues came in at $891.3 million. This includes land-based facilities as well as online casinos, plus sports betting.
Now that the gaming venues must shut down again, it will almost guarantee that the year-over-year gross gaming revenue results for the fourth quarter will be a loss. The casinos were operating with restrictions in place to make it safer for employees and visitors. This includes mask wearing, social distancing, offering limited games, and using ventilation systems to bring in new air.
For now, we will have to wait and see how long the casinos are actually shut down for. Hopefully, the case counts will get under control and the casinos will be able to reopen once the January 4 date rolls around. Only time will tell if the shutdown will help to lower the case count or if the positive tests will continue to roll in.