Most Indiana casinos can reopen next week under virus plans

Most of Indiana’s casinos can reopen their doors as soon as next week under coronavirus safety plans they have submitted, an Indiana Gaming Commission official said Monday

Posted: Jun 9, 2020 9:10 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Most of Indiana’s casinos can reopen their doors as soon as next week under coronavirus safety plans they have submitted, an Indiana Gaming Commission official said Monday

The 13 state-regulated casinos have been closed since mid-March when widespread shutdowns started to slow the coronavirus spread. The Michigan-based Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians announced Monday that it also plans to reopen its South Bend, Indiana, casino and three in southwestern Michigan on June 15.

The Indiana Gaming Commission required casino safety plans to include how they would encourage 6-foot distancing between gamblers and limit the number of people at table games, along with requiring face masks for employees.

“They will all have measures in place to ensure they’re tracking capacity during the course of the gaming day,” said Jennifer Reske, the commission’s deputy director. “We’ve also eliminated any special events — no parties, any type of situation that lends itself to the congregating of a crowd.”

Several tribal casinos in Michigan have welcomed back gamblers, but reopening dates haven’t been set yet for the three Detroit casinos overseen by state officials.

Indiana casinos could still face greater restrictions from local health officials. The Indiana casinos have remained closed even as Gov. Eric Holcomb has eased coronavirus restrictions on most other businesses beginning in early May.

Ohio is allowing casinos to reopen June 19, while no reopening date has been set for Illinois casinos. Casinos throughout Nevada reopened Thursday for the first time since March.

At least 7,000 Indiana casino workers have lost jobs during the shutdowns, according to layoff notices submitted to state officials. The casino closures have also cost state government more than $110 million in projected tax revenue during March, April and May.

The Indiana casinos will decide how quickly they will reopen, although those that have submitted new safety plans are allowed to do so as early as 6 a.m. June 15, Reske said. Many casinos will have fewer electronic games available as they provide greater distancing and some will spread machines and tables farther apart in their gambling areas, she said.

“We’re impressed with the resources they’ve put into preparing for opening with all the necessary health mitigation procedures in place,” Reske said.

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