Casinos in Colorado came up with a plan to get their gears cranking again after a 12-week closure enforced by the COVID-19 pandemic. What was their plan to reopen poker, blackjack and other table games? And how are they doing in the initial few days after reopening? Let’s take a look.
Will they last
Land-based casinos cannot afford to be shut down any longer
It seems the country is divided yet again when it comes to how the pandemic should be tackled. We have people saying no to masks, and some even saying no to vaccines. At the other end of the spectrum, we have stern believers in the lockdown, social distancing and masks.
Whichever side of the fence you fall on, one thing is for certain – the economy has taken a massive hit and continues to crash. Some economists say it will be worse than the great recession of 2008. Many business have been able to pivot and to open up and continue business virtually. This is not so easy for a land casino, however.
Even before we knew anything of the coronavirus, online casinos were slowly but surely taking over the gambling market share. The global online gambling market is expected to reach $59.6 billion in 2020. The momentum was already in favor of online casinos, and the pandemic is not helping to change this trend.
Casinos in Colorado have been shut down for 12 weeks and Heidi Allen from NDD says: “Colorado casinos can’t postpone opening for much longer for 2 key reasons, one is financial and second is market share that they are losing to their online counterparts, which they might not be able to get back.
Colorado Casinos’ plan to open up table games like Poker and Blackjack
Colorado casinos are not going down without a fight. They have devised a plan to reopen table games at their casinos. Colorado’s biggest hub in terms of gambling revenue is Gilpin County. Gilpin County casinos have been proactive during the lockdown period and came up with a proposal that was submitted to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. It detailed how table game operations can be resumed again safely. Slots had already been opened up with safety measures at this time and so the proposal dealt with table games only.
Some measures were proposed in order to ensure that both players and dealers were safe during table games. This included the use of hand sanitizers prior to touching any cards and using multiple card decks and changing them after every use. In addition, players would be advised to keep their physical handling of the cards to the absolute minimum.
Ron Engels the Gilpin County Commissioner even said in an interview that he acknowledged the risk of reopening, and would be open to shutting down table games again should there be an outbreak or a rise in cases related to the opening.
Apart from hand sanitizing and card handling advisories, there would also be limits imposed on how many players each table would facilitate. As per the proposal, blackjack tables would have a 3-player limit, roulette would impose a 4-player limit and craps have a 6-player limit.
The enforcement of these measures would be overseen by casino staff, mostly the dealers themselves. In cases where it is not pragmatic for players to maintain social distancing of 6 feet between each other and the dealer, the dealer would ensure that the players use masks and hand sanitizers.
Furthermore, attention was also brought to the point that Gilpin County was one of the least affected by COVID-19 with only some 8 confirmed positive cases at the time the proposal was drafted.
Lastly, Gilpin County also confirmed that the county would fall back into a strict lockdown in the event if there was an increase in caseload of over 20% in a specific time period mentioned. The same would be applicable if there was a marked increase in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, or if the county’s contact tracing team failed to trace any new cases within 24 hours.
How things are looking for Colorado casinos since re-opening their doors
After their 3-month enforced shutdown, Colorado casinos are open again. But things are different…very different. The table games sections are still abandoned. In the slots section, every other slot has been turned off and only alternate slot machines are operational. Casino employees have been armed with sanitizing sprays which are being used generously.
Of course, everyone who steps into the casino may only do so after a mandatory temperature check. Players spinning the reels with masks on are a common sight. Thermal cameras with heat sensors will also pick up anyone should they have a higher than normal-range temperature. Not to forget, all the employees have also been subject to COVID-19 testing.
On the positive side (for the economy), people seem to have missed casinos in Colorado because they have flocked back in good numbers. Could it be that the very thing that we suspected would destroy land based casinos for good has instead made people miss and value them more?