This is a developing story. Last updated May 15.
Land-based casinos around the country have been shuttered since mid-March due to the coronavirus outbreak, but public pressure is driving businesses of all sorts toward their reopening.
Considering it is both high-risk and nonessential, the hospitality and entertainment industry is likely to be among the last to fully reopen in most states. Even so, a growing number of casinos are making the decision to welcome guests back to their properties.
According to the American Gaming Association, there are nearly 1,000 casinos in the US. Of those:
As of last Wednesday, only a single tribal casino had reopened — Coeur d’Alene in Idaho. It did brisk business despite offering a limited range of games and services and requiring guests to wear masks. The admission line stretched up to a quarter mile, and the property set an all-time record for its nightly drop on opening weekend.
That success underscores the demand that exists for the return of land-based gambling, and other casinos have since followed suit. No state has yet given the go-ahead for its gaming industry to fully reopen, mind you. Most casinos that have done so are tribal properties not beholden to state laws or directives.
The primary exception is the town of Deadwood in South Dakota, which gave its commercial casinos the green light on May 7. A dozen local properties have jumped on the opportunity so far.
A further 13 tribal casinos in other states have followed to bring the total to 26 active gambling establishments.
In a study from Synergy Blue, slightly over half of gamblers said they were willing to return to casinos as soon as they reopen. Among those that said they wouldn’t, economic factors rated more highly as a concern than the risk of contagion.
That list is likely to grow significantly in the coming days, as a number of other casinos have announced their intentions to reopen on Friday or early next week. Two states and one California county are hoping to reopen in a larger way next Monday.
Cautious reopening requires preparation, however, and things don’t always go according to plan. Island Casino in Michigan, for example, planned to reopen on May 6 but hit the brakes just 24 hours before citing “unforeseen circumstances.” It now expects to open this weekend instead.
Here’s a partial list of the casinos that plan to reopen imminently:
Though the number of reopened casinos could easily hit 100 or more before the month ends, a large majority will remain closed for at least several more weeks. Commercial casinos can’t make the decision for themselves the way tribal casinos can, and must wait for authorization from state and local governments.
Few states are considering fully reopening their economies until mid-June at the earliest. Many will start the process sooner, but casinos and other gambling-related businesses are generally included in the later stages because of the crowds they attract.
Even Nevada is not including casinos in the first phase of its reopening plans. While no date has been set for its gaming industry to resume operations, the Nevada Gaming Control Board has established safety guidelines for when the time comes.