| Bucks County Courier Times
As the CEO of Parx Casino, a major employer and economic driver in Bucks County and the region, I am proud of the work we have done throughout this pandemic to help keep employees and guests safe.
We have invested millions of dollars to make changes to our facility and to train employees on how to enforce the protocols that have been mandated by the state Department of Health. The fact is we have exceeded these mandates in our effort to keep employees and guests safe. Despite these efforts, Parx has been closed since Dec. 12, along with the state’s other 13 casinos as a result of the latest COVID-19 mitigation measures ordered by Gov. Tom Wolf. These orders allow the state’s casinos to reopen on Jan. 4 at 8 a.m. In every state surrounding Pennsylvania, casinos are still operating.
I want to assure our employees, customers, and business partners that we will be ready to reopen — safely — at 8:01 a.m.
During this latest closure, Parx is paying its employees and maintaining their health benefits. We employ nearly 2,000 people and they want to get back to work. Many vendors and suppliers are hurting. Bucks County, as well as local fire departments and a wide array of nonprofits, are relying on Parx to continue generating hundreds of millions in local tax revenues.
We were disappointed with the governor’s orders because we believe that Parx Casino is one of the safest environments for workers and guests anywhere in the state. In fact, I am confident that the state’s 14 casinos have set the bar for any entertainment venue or public facility. As we look ahead to reopening, it is important that readers are aware of the specific measures and protocols we have taken. They include:
- All customers and employees must wear approved masks, and customers refusing to do so are removed from the property.
- Temperatures are checked upon entrance for all customers and employees. (Our facility has limited entrances as well, which helps to ensure rigorous enforcement of these measures.)
- Social distancing is observed on the gaming floor wherever possible and throughout the casino with signage, staging and plexiglass dividers, as well as limited capacity at slot machines, gaming tables and in our restaurants.
- We have a high-tech ozone air filtration system throughout the casino floor.
- Rigorous cleaning protocols include cutting edge nanotechnology and UV sanitation.
- Widely available hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes for guests and employees.
- Free rapid testing is provided for all employees as needed.
- Comprehensive contact tracing and notification programs have been implemented.
In addition, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board have a 24/7 presence in every PA casino. No other customer-facing business in this state operates under this type of accountability, which we welcome.
It is critical for Pennsylvanians to understand that the state Department of Health has reported no data that supports the closure of casinos. The state’s tracking system does not include casinos as a specific category of concern, so they have no direct data regarding our industry. Casinos, then, are included in the “some other business establishment.” Of the positive cases reported, only 0.1% of these individuals reported spending time in “some other business establishment.”
Pennsylvania, like every other state surrounding it, should keep its highly regulated and heavily safeguarded casinos open for business. The record shows no evidence that casinos are a source of COVID spread and that our industry has successfully managed this pandemic.
Parx will continue to take every responsible measure to keep our 2,000 employees and guests safe.
We will remain vigilant in enforcing all of the guidelines and protocols. Staff members on every shift walk through our facility and remind guests who have removed their masks that they must be worn at all times — no exception.
We look forward to opening our doors on Jan. 4 — safely and responsibly.
Eric Hausler is CEO of Greenwood Racing Inc., the parent company of Parx Casino in Bensalem.