Pennsylvania’s casinos will be allowed to reopen on January 4 when a state-mandated three-week shutdown of non-essential businesses is set to expire.
Governor Tom Wolf announced Wednesday that he would not extend the temporary restrictions beyond Monday because the number of new Covid-19 cases has declined since these were enforced nearly three weeks ago.
Casinos, theaters, concert venues, arcades, private clubs, bowling alleys, and other entertainment businesses were ordered to temporarily cease operations as of 12:01 am on December 12 through 8:00 am on January 4. Gov. Wolf issued his order as the number of new coronavirus cases was on the rise across the state.
Pennsylvania’s casinos and other shuttered entertainment venues will still have to follow a list of rules when their reopen on Monday. Their operations will be restricted to 50% of their indoor occupancy limits. Casino patrons will be required to wear face masks on the gaming floor and practice social distancing.
The latest shutdown was heavily protested by Pennsylvania’s casinos. The state gambling venues stayed closed for months during the first coronavirus wave earlier this year. Nine casino executives penned a letter to Gov. Wolf earlier this month asking him to reconsider his decision to once again shut down the state’s gambling venues as another closure would hit badly one of Pennsylvania’s “largest and most successful” industries that generates $1.5 billion in annual tax revenues.
Several Casinos Confirm Jan. 4 Reopening
At least three casinos will resume operations on the very same day the temporary restrictions are lifted. Penn National Gaming confirmed Wednesday that its Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course and The Meadows Casino and Racetrack will reopen this coming Monday.
The company’s Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Government Relations, Eric Schippers, said Wednesday that having Pennsylvania casino patrons back in the state’s “highly regulated casinos is safer than having Pennsylvanians travel to out-of-state casinos or patronize illegal skill slot machine locations where there is no regulatory or Covid safety monitoring.”
Maryland-based developer The Cordish Companies launched Live! Casino on November 24. The property is located at the former Bon-Ton department store at Westmoreland Mall in Westmoreland County. The casino features 750 slot machines and 30 table games.
Property officials said they “couldn’t be more happy” with its first 18 days of operations before the state-mandated closure and that the state lifting the restrictions means that more than 500 employees will be able to go back to work.
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