Here's what to expect when casinos reopen
MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. - Indiana casinos can open as early as mid-June, under Governor Eric Holcomb’s “back on track plan.” However, new restrictions and requirements have to be put in place.
A lot of casinos in Northwest Indiana have yet to announce any kind of opening date.
But, we are getting a better picture of what to expect and the changes being implemented before things get back up and running.
Casinos like Blue Chip in Michigan City have been hit hard by this pandemic. Thousands of dollars in revenue gone in a matter of months.
“That's had a pretty significant impact on our company,” David Strow, the Vice President of Corporate Communications for Boyd Gaming who owns Blue Chip said. “We haven't had the experience having properties closed before.”
But even as states start to reopen, many Indiana casinos are facing new challenges, making them reluctant to announce their own plans.
“We’ve actually heard from Blue Chip already. Many casinos are having to undertake projects in order to revise their floorplans to comply with social distancing requirements,” Jennifer Reske, the Deputy Director of the Indiana Gaming Commission said.
Once the floor lights back up, it’ll be a whole new experience for players from the second they walk through the door.
“What you could see is things like slot machines being separated so we may turn machines off, we may remove stools so that players can't sit next to one another tables, you're talking about fewer people sitting at a table game so that the players can separate from one another,” Strow said. “There's going to be changed to the customer experience that begins when you come in. We're going to be asking you when you come in, have you experienced any of these symptoms of COVID-19 such as a fever, coughing, shortness of breath.”
“Education. Signage,” Reske said. “People at table games are required to wear masks, all employees will wear masks.”
On top of following social distancing guidelines, there will also be an increased cleaning staff regularly sanitizing high touch surfaces like slot machines.
Strict rules every casino under the Indiana Gaming Commission will have to follow.
“We regulate Indiana's commercial casinos,” Reske said.
So when it comes to Four Winds South Bend, operated by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians their rulings do not apply.
“That is not under the gaming commissions jurisdiction,” she said.
Although most Northwest Indiana casinos have not released information about exactly when they will reopen, Horseshoe Hammond is planning to reopen on June 14th.
We are still working to learn more about the projected timeline for the Four Winds Casino in South Bend, and the changes being implemented at all four locations on both sides of the state line.