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In mid-March 2020, within the span of a couple of weeks, virtually all gambling establishments in the US shut down. The reason, as we all know, was to try to spread the stem of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The economic impact was huge, especially in states without legal online casinos. Debates raged over the relative prioritization of public health and the financial well-being of businesses.
By the end of April, a few casinos had begun to reopen. Tribal gaming companies were able to lead the way, as their sovereignty meant they were not forced to wait for state authorization. Commercial casinos began to follow suit not long thereafter, starting with those in Deadwood, South Dakota.
COVID-19 is temperature sensitive, like colds and flus. It propagates best at around 45 F. As winter approaches and temperatures fall, the pandemic’s second wave has swept the country. Almost every state now meets the definition of a COVID-19 hotspot. While some vaccines have shown promise, approval and distribution of those vaccines is still many months off.
This makes a second wave of casino closures likely. It remains to be seen whether it will be nationwide like the first, or whether some states will choose to remain open and try “tough it out.”
Here, we will be tracking these closures and, eventually, the reopening of affected casinos.
LAST UPDATED: Nov. 23, 2020
Here we will be providing information as it comes in, on at least a weekly basis and more frequently during periods of high activity. Updates are given in reverse chronological order, with the most recent information first.
Nevada casinos haven’t yet been forced to shut down, but they’ve been subjected to a new 25% capacity order. The limit was previously 50%.
Some are also taking voluntary additional steps, as much to save money as to stem the spread of COVID-19. Mandalay Bay and The Mirage have elected to limit their hotel operations to Friday, Saturday and Sunday, though their casino floors remain open throughout the week for now. Others are reducing their hours of operation on weekdays but remaining open in the evenings.
Detroit commercial casinos have now been closed for a week. It’s estimated that they will lose at least $67 million even if they only remain closed for three weeks as originally planned. Relatedly, Mississippi’s Island View Casino is suing its insurer for refusing to cover losses related to the first shutdown.
Meanwhile, north of the border, most casinos in Ontario have shut down. At the moment, only the Toronto and Peel regions are under lockdown, but some of the province’s other casinos have closed voluntarily.
Illinois executed its casino shutdown today, as the state moves back into Tier 3 restrictions. Some other forms of indoor recreation such as theaters and museums have also been forced to cease operations. This will last a minimum of 14 days, after which the state will reevaluate. Casinos may be permitted to reopen after that time if cases and hospitalization rates decrease, but this is unlikely.
Likewise, Rivers Casino Philadelphia shut down on orders from the city. It will stay closed until at least January 1.
Minnesota also has new restrictions coming into effect at midnight tonight. These won’t affect the state’s many tribal casinos, unless they opt to comply voluntarily. However, it will shut down the state’s two racetracks and their attached card rooms.
Meanwhile, Rhode Island became the next state to announce casino shutdowns. Its two casinos, owned by Ballys (formerly Twin River) will be forced to shutter on November 30, along with colleges and universities, offices, bars, gyms and various other nonessential indoor businesses.
As with Illinois, this will be a two-week shutdown. If the virus is continuing to spread unchecked after that time, Gov. Gina Raimondo has warned residents to prepare for a total, full-state lockdown.
Of course, the biggest question mark is Nevada. The jury’s still out there. Gov. Steve Sisolak said Wednesday that residents should prepare for an announcement of new measures, but that announcement hasn’t yet come.
The second wave of casino closures is officially underway, as the MGM Grand, Greektown Casino and Motor City Casino in Detroit all closed their doors. The order to do so went out on Sunday, November 14, coming straight from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The closure order will last a minimum of three weeks. Based on the trajectory of the disease in Michigan and nationwide, it is likely to last longer, as the hope of reining in the spread of the disease in that short span of time seems slim to nonexistent.
There are roughly two dozen other casinos in the state, but they are tribal properties and therefore not subject to the Governor’s orders. Six of these in the state’s Upper Peninsula (or panhandle) have followed suit of their own accord. Five others remain open for now, along with all tribal casinos on the Lower Peninsula.
Yesterday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the state’s Department of Public Health announced that it would be moving into Tier 3 restrictions. That means that starting Friday, its casinos will also close. Also on Friday, Rivers Philadelphia will shut down on orders from the city, though other Pennsylvania casinos will remain open for now.
In Colorado, the Department of Public Health and Environment came close to ordering the outright closure of Cripple Creek casinos, but changed its mind at the last moment. However, all commercial casinos in the state have been ordered to cease offering table games, rendering them slots-only. They’ve also had their capacities reduced to 100, and cannot sell alcohol after midnight.
The information on this page combines data from the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) COVID-19 Casino Tracker with summarized news stories from around the web. AGA’s data includes Class II tribal properties (i.e. bingo halls) but excludes some other types of gambling establishments like off-track betting parlors and California’s card rooms.
The country never quite achieved 100% reopening of casinos. By early September, most commercial casinos had reopened, and the rate at which tribal casinos were doing so had slowed to a crawl.
For those most part, those remaining closed were small rest stop style casinos, bingo halls and the like.
The first indicator of a second, potentially nationwide shutdown was the closure of Detroit’s three commercial casinos on November 18. Other states are now looking at making a similar decision, while others have introduced new restrictions.
Here’s what the second shutdown looks like at the moment, by the numbers.
Here’s what the national picture looks like as of November 18.
Want to know how things are going in your state? Scroll down or click your state in the list below for a synopsis of all the news we’ve found. This includes special restrictions on casino activity, rumors, etc. as well as outright shutdowns.
Know something we don’t? Please contact us on Twitter to let us know, and we’ll add it to the list.
Jump to: Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming
Alabama is fully open at the moment. Wind Creek, its tribal gaming operator, resumed 24-hour operations in October and has not given any indication that it will reverse course.
Alaska has only two small tribal bingo halls, both of which are currently open.
Arizona has only tribal casinos, which will make their own decisions independent of the state. At the moment, all are open.
The two commercial casinos in Arkansas were among the first to reopen back in May, remain open, and show no indication of closing.
California has a mixture of tribal casinos and “card rooms,” which aren’t technically casinos but serve the same purpose. All but one tribal casino is open. The lone exception is Redwood Hotel Casino in Klamath, which closed in March and never reopened.
Card rooms are a different story. As of November 16, 41 counties are in the “purple” tier, which means nonessential indoor businesses are closed, including card rooms. However, many card rooms have prepared for this by setting up outdoor operations.
Colorado’s commercial casinos are concentrated in three small towns designated for that purpose. All are open, for now.
Cripple Creek has been harder hit by COVID-19, and although its casinos were allowed to reopen, they could only offer slots. It may soon be forced to shut down again, but has so far avoided that fate.
Black Hawk and Central City, located close to one another just west of Denver, enjoyed slightly more relaxed restrictions for a time, and were able to offer table games as well. As of November 11, however, they’ve lost that privilege and are also slots-only.
There are additionally two tribal casinos in the southwest corner of the state, which opened in August and September and have not announced plans to close again.
Connecticut has only two tribal casinos, but they’re major ones: Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. Their decision to reopen on June 1 caused a ruckus, as Gov. Ned Lamont was strongly opposed and attempted to stop them, though he had no power to do so. We may see a repeat of that drama if the state asks them to shut down again and they refuse to do so, but for now they remain open, albeit at 25% capacity.
Delaware’s three racetrack casinos are operated by the state lottery. All three opened in June and have remained open, with no word of a potential second closure as yet. Even if they do, state residents do have access to online casino gambling, also operating through the lottery.
Florida has been one of the states most resistant to economic shutdowns or, indeed, to most anti-COVID measures. The Seminole tribal casinos were among the few nationwide to resist the initial shutdown, though they complied eventually. Despite that attitude, some casinos in the state have already gone through a second shutdown through July and August.
Even these are now open again, and Gov. DeSantis has promised his constituents that there will be no second shutdown, of casinos or anything else.
Georgia has no casinos.
Hawaii has no casinos.
Idaho has tribal gaming only. At the moment, all tribal casinos in the state are open and have not announced any plans to close again. The only gaming establishment that’s closed is the small collection of slot machines at Benewah Family Foods.
Illinois is fully open for now, but will become the first state fully closed in a matter of days. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has already imposed additional restrictions on them, will shut them down entirely on November 20, among other precautions. He says the state could be headed for stay at home orders once again, too.
Illinois has no tribal casinos, so once the commercial casinos have shut down, that will be it for land-based gaming in the state.
Indiana’s casino industry consists mostly of commercial establishments, with Four Winds South Bend as the sole tribal property. So far, the state has said that all casinos can remain open. Starting November 15, however, it did introduce new restrictions, making masks mandatory for all guests and staff, and forbidding all food and drink on the casino floor.
Iowa has a mixture of commercial and tribal casinos, all of which are open at the moment. However, as of November 17, the state has a limited mandatory mask policy anywhere indoors where social distancing is impossible. Half the casinos in the state were already requiring masks, and now the other half will have to follow suit.
Kansas has a mixture of tribal casinos, and commercial casinos operated by the state lottery. All are open at the moment, with no word of impending closure yet.
Kentucky has no casinos per se. It does have racetracks and race betting parlors, which are all open for now. These offer slots-like historical horse racing terminals, making them almost as good as real casinos. However, this is the subject of an ongoing legal battle and may lead to disruptions even if COVID-19 doesn’t force the venues to close first. The state also has instant internet lottery games available as a reasonable and pandemic-proof alternative to casino gambling.
Louisiana has a mixture of commercial and tribal casinos, most of which are open. It is one of the states to have seen a casino – DiamondJacks – close permanently as a result of the pandemic. Additionally, the Isle of Capri Casino Hotel Lake Charles remains closed, not due to COVID, but rather because of damage it sustained during Hurricane Laura.
There has been no word as yet whether the state plans on forcing commercial casinos to close again.
Maine has two commercial casinos, which are currently open, with no indication of whether they will close again.
Maryland has a half dozen commercial casinos and no tribal properties. At the moment, all are open and there has been no word about closing casinos specifically. However, asked recently about whether the state might have to undergo a shutdown this winter, Gov. Larry Hogan responded, “absolutely we might.”
Massachusetts has three commercial casinos that are all currently open. As of November 6, however, they’ve been forced to close each night at 9:30 PM, along with all other businesses classified as “entertainment venues.” It remains to be seen whether this will avert the need to shut them down entirely. If they do close, there are no alternatives in the state, as it lacks both tribal casinos and online gambling.
Michigan was the first state to initiate the second wave of casino closures, shutting down the three commercial casinos in Detroit on November 18. The state claims that this will only last for three weeks, but if COVID-19 rates keep increasing despite efforts at mitigation, they could easily be forced to remain closed much longer.
The state also has roughly two dozen tribal properties. About half of those in the Upper Peninsula have followed suit and are closed. The other half are open for now, along with all tribal properties in the Lower Peninsula.
Fortunately, Michigan is close to launching online gambling. This could come as early as December or, if not, then early next year, and will provide residents with a pandemic-proof option for casino gaming, as well as poker and sports betting. In the meantime, the state does have an iLottery with casino-like instant games.
Minnesota has no commercial casinos, but a huge number of tribal gaming properties. All of these are open for the time being. However, many are already struggling due to the pandemic and may wind up shutting down temporarily due to lack of business even though the state can’t force them to do so.
The state also has a pair of card rooms located at its racetracks, Canterbury Park and Running Aces. These closed on November 20 at midnight, due to new restrictions imposed by the state.
Mississippi has a huge number of riverboat casinos, plus three tribal properties. At the moment, the state is fully open and isn’t looking to change that. The governor, Tate Reeves, has claimed that a second shutdown would be unnecessary, and has gone so far as to say that it would not comply even with a federally mandated national shutdown.
Missouri has commercial casinos only, and could shut down completely if Gov. Mike Parson ordered it. The casinos stayed closed for two and a half months the first time around. However, Gov. Parson was resistant to the idea of reimposing restrictions during a smaller spike in cases over the summer, so it’s unclear what his attitude will be now. For the time being, Missouri casinos remain open.
Montana has tribal casinos only. About half belong to the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, while the other half are independently operated by smaller tribes. Two of the latter have remained closed since March. The rest are open, but without a single state or tribal authority governing them, may make independent decisions to close at any point.
The state also has roughly 150 small card rooms. Most of these have a minimal online presence, making it difficult to check their status individually. However, new restrictions imposed by Gov. Steve Bullock will at minimum restrict their capacity and make masks obligatory.
Nebraska has no commercial casinos, but does have four tribal casinos, owned by three different tribes. All are open for now and not subject to state orders, but could decide to close of their own accord.
Nevada is, of course, the casino capital of the US and arguably of the world. There are a great many commercial casinos in the state, and four tribal ones. Most are open, though some have stayed closed for now, others are taking the opportunity to carry out renovations, and a few have closed permanently. As of November 22, all are limited to 25% capacity, down from 50% when they initially reopened.
The stakes are very high in Nevada. On the one hand, the size and number of the casinos makes the risk of super-spreader events very real. Meanwhile, the reopening hasn’t gone all that well. Some casinos have independently decided to keep their hotels open only certain days of the week due to lack of business, while what visitors have been coming have included a higher proportion than normal of unsavory characters, leading to an outbreak of violence on the Strip.
On the other hand, the state is so reliant on its entertainment and gambling industries that the thought of a second shutdown is extremely painful. As yet, it remains up in the air what will happen.
New Hampshire’s casinos are charitable establishments, neither commercial nor tribal. That being the case, they aren’t included in the AGA’s casino shutdown stats. At the moment, they’re open. There’s no indication that the state is planning a second shutdown at this time.
New Jersey’s casinos are limited to commercial establishments in Atlantic City. These are open, but under severe restrictions on capacity, food and drink service, hygiene protocols, and so forth. Most recently, new restrictions on indoor dining have caused the Borgata to lay off many employees and cut hours for others.
Worse may be yet to come. New Jersey was quick to shut down its casinos in the spring and among the last states to reopen. Now, Gov. Phil Murphy has said that if the current trend of infections continues, a second full shutdown is probably coming.
The good news, of course is that there’s no shortage of NJ online casinos. It has the best developed online gambling market in the US, in fact, and its iGaming sites have been doing booming business since their retail competition first shut down.
New Mexico is the only state not to have given its commercial casinos permission to reopen. The five racinos have been closed since March, and are still pushing for permission to reopen. Since they haven’t received it yet, they’re unlikely to at this point, until either vaccines arrive, the pandemic runs its course, or warmer weather arrives and causes the infection trajectory to abate once more.
The state also has numerous tribal casinos, most of which have also remained closed. The exceptions are Inn of the Mountain Gods and Taos Mountain. These two are, at the moment, the only places to gamble in person in the state.
New York has a mixture of casinos, all of them open at the moment. There are three racinos in and around New York City, plus two other commercial properties elsewhere in the state. There are furthermore a cluster of tribal casinos upstate.
The commercial casinos were closed for more than five months, only receiving permission to reopen in September. Now, they’re staring down the barrel of a second shutdown. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been warning of the potential need to shut down parts of the economy again. With casinos being both high risk and non-essential, and three of the five commercial properties located in New York City, the odds are very high that retail gambling will be on the list of businesses being sacrificed for the public good.
North Carolina has only three tribal casinos. Harrah’s Cherokee remains open despite having been at the center of a COVID outbreak in July, as does its sister casino Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River. The third is a bingo hall attached to Harrah’s Cherokee, which has been closed since March. Caesars, which operates the two Harrah’s properties on behalf of the Cherokee tribe, has not announced any plans to close the casinos again.
North Dakota has only tribal casinos, so the decision to stay open or close is not up to the state. Most of the casinos are open. The exceptions are four casinos in the northern part of the state owned by the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. These have remained closed since March. Part of the reason may be their proximity to the Canadian border, as restrictions on international travel will have killed any cross-border business they once received.
Ohio has only commercial casinos, which means it could go to full shutdown at any moment based on an order from the governor. For now, they remain open. However, as of November 17, the state has asked citizens to respect a 10 PM curfew. This has led at least some of the casinos to adjust their hours of operation accordingly.
Gov. Mike DeWine has minced words a bit on the issue of a second shutdown. He’s said that won’t happen, per se, but that he does plan on a slowdown of sorts. It’s not clear what this means for casinos specifically, but the plan seems to be to focus on changing individual behavior rather than imposing rules on businesses.
Oklahoma has just two commercial racinos, one of which opened in late June, the other in early September. Though Oklahoma has had one of the sharpest spikes in infection rates this fall, there’s been no talk from its government about a second shutdown. For now, the racinos will remain open.
Aside from the racinos, there are dozens of small tribal casinos scattered throughout the state. All but six are open at the moment. Their decisions are made independently, so some may choose to close again of their own accord, even absent instructions from the state.
Oregon is already entering a partial second shutdown. It took effect on November 18 and will last at least two weeks, probably longer. Restaurants will be take-out only, retail businesses have their capacity limited, and parks and playgrounds are closed.
The state’s casinos are all tribal businesses, so won’t be affected directly. At the moment, all of them are still open. However, the restrictions will likely affect individual citizens’ behavior as well. If people take the instructions to heart and end up staying at home more, the casinos may decide on a temporary shutdown of their own accord.
At the state level, Pennsylvania hasn’t ordered a casino shutdown, though it might not be far off. It is nonetheless the second state to have seen a commercial casino forced to shut down for a second time by government. Rivers Casino was ordered to shut down by the city of Philadelphia, effective November 20. The order will last until January 1 at the earliest.
As of mid-October, state officials said they weren’t considering a new statewide shutdown. The impending election may have had something to do with that, however. As yet, they haven’t revisited the question, but even if the orders don’t come from the state, local authorities may force individual casinos to shutter their operations the way Philadelphia did with Rivers.
Pennsylvania doesn’t have any tribal casinos per se, though one of its commercial casinos, Wind Creek Bethlehem is owned by a tribal gaming company. If it does order a shutdown, all casinos will be affected, including Wind Creek. On the other hand, the Pennsylvania online casino industry is now thriving to nearly as great an extent as New Jersey’s. No matter what happens, then, Pennsylvanians won’t be left without the option to play.
Rhode Island has just two casinos, both operated by the state lottery in partnership with the company formerly known as Twin River, which has just this month taken over the Bally’s brand and changed its own name to match.
Gov. Gina Raimondo announced on November 19 that she would be imposing new restrictions. These will come into effect on November 30, shutting down both casinos among other forms of indoor entertainment.
Though she initially said she’s hesitant to move backwards on the state’s reopening plans, she has since warned that a full-state lockdown could be coming. The new restrictions will last for a minimum of two weeks, whereupon she will decide whether to loosen them, keep them in place, or move to more drastic measures.
The good news for residents is that the state now has an iLottery with slot-machine like instant games. While not quite as good as a full featured online casino, that’s something to help pass the time if the casinos do have to close.
South Carolina has no casinos.
South Dakota’s commercial casinos are constrained to the tiny town of Deadwood. These were the first commercial casinos in the country to receive permission to reopen, on May 7. All but two are now open.
In October, Gov. Kristi Noem declared lockdowns ‘useless,’ making it unlikely that Deadwood will be forced to shut down again. There are also a few tribal casinos along the southern and eastern borders of the state. The former, adjoining Nebraska, have remained closed since March, while those to the east, facing Minnesota, have reopened.
Tennessee has no casinos.
Texas has no commercial casinos and just two tribal properties. These remained closed longer than most tribal casinos in other states, but have been open since the beginning of the fall. Given how recently they opened, they will likely be reluctant to close again, and the state cannot force them to do so.
Utah has no casinos.
Vermont has no casinos.
Virginia has no casinos, though its citizens authorized the construction of four casinos as a ballot question during this month’s election. Their construction will take long enough that COVID may no longer be an issue by the time they’re completed.
Washington has no commercial casinos, so the choice is not in the state’s hands. It has many tribal casinos, most of which remain open at this juncture. There are, however, two that never reopened to begin with: Two Rivers and Last Chance.
The state is beginning a second shutdown, however, which will impact the casinos indirectly. Though not obliged to, many may end up shutting down of their own accord.
Washington further more has a number of card rooms. Indoor activities at these establishments have been prohibited since July 30, though outdoor tables were permitted. New restrictions as of November 16 will have the effect of limiting table capacities, and cold weather may make outdoor poker a less popular idea in any case.
West Virginia has just five commercial casinos and no tribal gambling operations. All five are open at the moment.
It’s a conservative state, and one of those five casinos — the Greenbrier — is owned by Gov. Jim Justice and his family. Both those factors bode well for the casinos’ chances of remaining open, and Gov. Justice has said he hopes to avoid a second shutdown. His Attorney General, Patrick Morrisey, is even more resistant to anti-COVID measures and the two clashed over it on November 19.
On the other hand, there are now two online casinos in WV, which wasn’t true back in the spring. If the casinos did have to close their doors again, the consequences to the state’s revenues wouldn’t be quite as dire as they were the first time around.
Wisconsin has a large number of tribal casinos but no commercial gambling. This leaves the decision out of the state’s hands. Its collection of casinos is partially open at the moment, and could swing either way as there are eleven different tribes operating the casinos, each making its decisions independently.
Six of those casinos never reopened in the first place. Another, St. Croix Casino Turtle Lake, had been open but closed again on November 11, with the plan to resume business on December 10. The other 20 casinos are open now, but taking things day by day.
Wyoming has only four tribal casinos and no commercial establishments. The tribes aren’t subject to state orders, but even so, Wyoming became the first state to see all casinos close down again.
Two of the four casinos never reopened to begin with, and the other two shut down temporarily on November 9. They plan to reopen December 1, though of course there is a good chance the disease continues to spread and they elect to stay closed longer.