Meadows is cleared for takeoff

The Meadows Racetrack & Casino will become the first of Pennsylvania’s dozen casinos to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. The facility southwest of Pittsburgh plans to welcome its first guests in over two months on Tuesday, June 9.

It is able to do so because it is in Washington County, a county which will be given “green” status starting this coming Friday, June 5. Governor Tom Wolf announced last Friday that Washington County will move from yellow to green, while the remaining states that are in red status will advance to yellow.

“We cannot isolate ourselves forever,” Governor Wolf said last week.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pittsburgh’s River Casino is also expected to announce its reopening soon [UPDATE: Rivers Casino has said it will also reopen on June 9]. Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin is in Fayette County, one of the 16 counties that will shift to green status on Friday, but has not made any sort of announcement.

Management will be put to the test

In a statement, Meadows General Manager Tony Frabbiele said:

We have been working closely with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, state and local leaders, and public health officials to finalize comprehensive reopening protocols and new health and safety precautions. We look forward to sharing details of our property-specific procedures in advance of reopening and welcoming back our team members and customers.

In a similar brief message on its website, the casino said that it will post updates with further information on its homepage and its Facebook page.

As we have come to expect at this point, the health and safety measures Meadows and other casinos must implement are extensive. On May 19, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board issued a 10-page document detailing the required protocols. The Control Board stressed that, despite the length of the document, these are the minimum protocols.

“Licensed casino facilities are encouraged to examine their gaming floors, back of house areas, entrances and other areas of their facilities and determine if additional mitigation measures are appropriate to create a safe environment within the casino facility,” the Control Board added.

Nothing out of the ordinary

Because of the high-occupancy nature of casinos, they are only allowed to open at 50% capacity. And, of course, the casinos must adhere to social distancing rules like installing queuing systems and placing markers on the floor to show people where to stand.

Hand sanitizer stations must be placed at the casino entrances and across the casino floor. Sanitizing wipes are to be available at gaming machines for customers to use.

On the gaming floor specifically, slot machines need to be adjusted for social distancing. Methods used can be installing barriers between machines, turning selected machines off, or removing chairs from certain machines. They must also be wiped down frequently, as must other high-touch surfaces at gaming tables like chairs and handrails.

Table games must be operated to maintain distance between players, though it does appear the method in which this is done is up to Meadows and the other casinos. All the equipment that is touched, like dice, cards, and shoes, will be cleaned frequently, and casinos must come up with a way to sanitize their chips. Poker is a no-go at this point.

All patrons and employees are also required to wear facemasks.

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