In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, casinos and racetracks have become the next domino to fall. Ohio, Indiana, Massachusetts, Illinois, Rhode Island, and parts of Pennsylvania have been required to shut down their facilities or keep the total number of individuals present under a designated limit. These announcements came late Friday afternoon after many of the states enforced limiting the number of public gatherings.
Ohio's four casinos and seven racetracks have been ordered to shut down or limit the total number of people in their buildings, including employees, to under 100. The order came from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine as part of the state's effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. The Indiana Gaming Board has suspended all casino operations for 14 days beginning Monday, March 16. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission also has voted to shut down casino operations. Massachusetts will reevaluate the decision in two weeks, but all gaming floors are set to be closed to patrons at 5:59 a.m. Sunday. Like Massachusetts, Illinois' ten casinos will close for at least 14 days, and Rhode Island's two casinos are being required to close for at least a week. Lastly, four of Pennsylvania's twelve casinos have closed temporarily for 14 days.
States such as New Jersey have not yet shut down, and according to New Jersey's Governor Phil Murphy, there is no plan for New Jersey casinos to shut down. Also, in Las Vegas, Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts International are temporarily closing to stop the spread of the virus.
Although casinos are closing, online casino gaming will not be affected. Moreover, online casino gaming can potentially grow during the 14 days shutdown. In states like New Jersey, where there is no shutdown, many people may stay away from casinos and decide to play online.
Sports wagering has also been affected by COVID-19, and is essentially shut down nationwide with no sports available to bet on. This comes at a time where states such as Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois have just begun to accept sports wagers.
The casinos that are facing shut down are also taking the initiative to provide for their workers. Penn National Gaming and Wynn Resorts have stated it plans to continue to pay its employees full wages and benefits while the suspension period is in place. Penn National has also stated it plans to continue its deep cleaning efforts to prepare to welcome back its customers when the pandemic ends.
We will continue to follow this situation closely and provide any additional updates.
Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.