More than 1 in 5 US casinos has reopened to customers

Kansas Casinos Emerge From Coronavirus Shutdown; Nevada’s Getting Ready

This is a developing story. Last updated May 29.

While the majority of US casinos remain closed due to COVID-19, a growing number are resuming operations in a limited fashion.

It has now been three weeks since the first casino did so — in Idaho — and the pace of reopenings has recently begun to accelerate. More than 1 in 5 casinos is now back in business in some form.

Most casinos in the first wave of reopenings were tribal, operated by sovereign nations unbound by state directives. Those for which gambling is a major source of revenue have generally pushed for a quicker reopening than state and local governments.

That said, several jurisdictions have given the go-ahead to commercial casinos to reopen on a local or statewide basis. Deadwood, South Dakota was the first to make the move, but five states now have commercial casinos open for business.

According to the American Gaming Association, there are nearly 1,000 casinos in the US. Of those:

  • 225 are open
  • 764 are closed

Kansas is the latest state to reopen

Although dozens of casinos reopened in the past week, most were following in the footsteps of other casinos in their state.

The only state with operational casinos on Monday which was not on the list last week was Kansas. On Wednesday, it was joined by Wisconsin, bringing the total to 19.

Its first casinos resumed operations over the weekend, and there are now four open for business. That includes Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, whose reopening resulted in a lineup stretching around the building.

The full list of states with open casinos is starting to stretch, too:

  • Arkansas (commercial)
  • Arizona (tribal)
  • California (tribal)
  • Florida (tribal)
  • Idaho (tribal)
  • Kansas (commercial)
  • Louisiana (commercial and tribal)
  • Michigan (tribal)
  • Minnesota (tribal)
  • Mississippi (commercial)
  • Montana (tribal)
  • New York (tribal)
  • North Carolina (tribal)
  • North Dakota (tribal)
  • Oklahoma (tribal)
  • Oregon (tribal)
  • South Dakota (commercial and tribal)
  • Washington (tribal)
  • Wisconsin (tribal)

Connecticut to open Monday; Nevada later next week

At least two more states will join the list next week.

For starters, the two tribes in Connecticut have made the contentious decision to reopen their respective casinos on Monday.

While Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are far from the first to ignore state orders, they will be the first to do so along the high-density, high-risk eastern seaboard. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has publicly criticized the tribes’ decision.

The bigger news, however, is that Nevada has tentative plans to begin reopening its casinos on June 4. The Nevada Gaming Control Board has set out strict safety regulations which casinos will have to follow. Those found not in compliance will be subject to stiff fines.

That date is contingent on new cases not spiking following the first phase of the state’s reopening plan last week. The rate of new infections in Nevada so far looks as to be holding steady, which is good news for the prospects of moving forward.

Wynn Resorts and Boyd Gaming have both confirmed that they plan on resuming operations in Nevada as soon as legally able to do so.

Reopening the casinos may not provide the full and immediate boost Las Vegas is hoping for, however. The biggest Nevada casinos rely heavily on interstate and international tourism, which will take some additional time to return to anything close to normal levels.

Casino reopenings this week

So long as the spread of coronavirus remains in check, reopenings should continue to accelerate.

The good news is that does seem to be the case so far.

Even Florida, which has restarted its economy in aggressive fashion, is still seeing fewer new cases per day than it did in late March and early April — though the numbers are slowly creeping back upward.

This week may be a bit slower than last, though, as a number of casinos (plus at least two states) are likely to wait until Monday. June 1 is an appealing date because it is both the first day of the month and the first day of the week. For many, it also marks the unofficial beginning of summer.

Here’s a partial list of the casinos which will reopen their doors in the coming days:

May 27

May 28

May 29

June 1

- Alex is a journalist from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. Now site runner for Online Poker Report, he has been writing about poker and the online gambling industry in various capacities since 2014.
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