The coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across the globe and countries are grappling to contain the spread of the virus and deal with the severe impact it has on economies, the disruption it causes on people’s lives, and the multi-faceted stress it places on the whole society.
With more than 150,000 confirmed cases and over 5,839 deaths globally, Covid-19 is officially the worst public health situations the world has been faced with in many years.
In the US, the number of confirmed cases has passed 2,100 and the virus has killed at least 50 people. Most US states have now been affected and the number of cases is growing rapidly.
Officials have been urging the public not to panic, but to take the necessary precautions and be responsible to help limit the spread of Covid-19.
Social distancing has been prescribed as one of the best measures to mitigate the outbreak and officials across states have issued orders to cancel any gatherings involving crowds.
Casinos in states with tighter rules against the spread of the coronavirus have also been affected. And over the course of just a couple of days, gambling regulators in a number of states have ordered statewide casino closures that would last at least 14 days or until further notice.
Here is where casinos were or are to be shut down in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic. Casino News Daily will provide its readers with regular updates on where else casinos would close as part of the measures taken to combat the spread of the dangerous virus.
Illinois was among the first states in the country to order its 10 casinos to hit the pause button amid the global coronavirus crisis.
The Illinois Gaming Board issued a statement on Friday, saying that “the public health of patrons, casino employees, IGB staff, and others is of paramount importance” and that the state’s casinos will be closed for a 14-day period and the shutdown will become effective midnight Monday.
“The Board is continuously monitoring developments and will update licensees and the public as frequently as possible.”
News about the statewide casino shutdown came just days after Rivers Casino Des Plaines said that it would suspend its operations starting Sunday, even though “there have been no known cases of Covid-19 at the property.”
Rivers Casino executives said that their decision to close the property temporarily was made after Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker called on Thursday on establishments across the state to cancel gatherings of more than 250 people.
The Indiana Gaming and Racing Commission announced on Saturday that, following the lead of other states, all Indiana gaming and racing facilities will close for two weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The closure is set to begin at 6 am on Monday and to last for at least 14 days.
Indiana’s gambling regulator that its decision to order the statewide shutdown was made based on “changing circumstances and in the interest of public health.” The Commission also said in its statement that it will continue to monitor the situation and provide timely updates.
Massachusetts has also joined the slew of states shutting down their casinos. Members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Saturday voted unanimously to close the state’s three commercial casinos – Plainridge Park Casino, MGM Springfield, and Encore Boston Harbor, as soon as possible.
The three properties were ordered to begin closing their operations a few hours after midnight on Sunday. According to a message on the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s official website, the regulator anticipated that the gaming floors at the properties would close to patrons at 5:59 am on Sunday.
The agency also said in its statement that “as we all continue to navigate this unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation, our agency and our licensees will remain in close consultation with public health authorities and government officials to determine safe protocols for resuming operation.”
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said during a news conference on Saturday, March 14, that the state’s four casinos and seven racinos have suspended their operations for an unspecified period of time in order to comply with orders by Ohio’s top officials that mass gatherings be limited to fewer than 100 people.
MGM Northfield said in an email to patrons that they would monitor the rapidly changing situation and would keep people informed as “decisions are made on when we will reopen.”
Jack Cleveland Casino and Jack Thistledown Racino said in a message on their websites that “based on directives from the state of Ohio, we will be temporarily closing our doors” to comply with orders for social distancing and that they “will announce a reopening timeframe as soon as we have additional information.”
Five of Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos have closed doors or are about to close over coronavirus concerns. Valley Forge Casino in Montgomery County was shut down on Friday and Harrah’s Philadelphia in Delaware County closed indefinitely on Saturday in response to a call from Gov. Tom Wolf that people avoid non-essential trips to these two counties.
Casino operator Rush Street Gaming announced over the weekend that its Rivers Casinos properties in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh will both close doors for patrons for at least 14 days effective Monday.
Wind Creek Bethlehem has, too, announced that it would close voluntarily for a two-week period starting 6 am on Sunday. The property said in a statement that “while there have been no reported cases of Covid-19 at the property, Wind Creek Bethlehem has decided to close as a precautionary measure because the health of our community is most important.”
It emerged on Saturday that California’s largest card rooms would close in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Commerce Hotel & Casino, The Gardens Casino, The Bicycle Hotel & Casino, and Hollywood Park Casino said that they would close operations beginning this weekend as “the health and safety of casino patrons, visitors and employees are of the utmost importance, particularly at this critical time.”
News about the shutdown of card rooms in California emerged after State Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order directing residents to “follow public health guidelines, including canceling large gatherings of more than 250 people and ensuring social distancing of six feet per person.”
The four card rooms said that they would remain in close communication with the California government and state health officials and that they are ready to implement additional changes to their operations if these are necessary.
The Pueblo of Pojoaque said over the weekend that it would close its casinos in New Mexico for two weeks starting 4 am on Monday to promote social distancing amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The pueblo owns and operates Buffalo Thunder Resort Casino, Cities of Gold Casino, and Jake’s Casino in the state. It said that while it will close its casino floors, hotels will remain open.
Pueblo of Pojoaque Governor Joseph M. Talachy said that “our highest priority has always been the health and safety of our team members, our guests, and our community.”
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