Delaware casinos have reopened to players after months of lockdown.
Casino operators are aiming to follow suit with the rest of the world by taking on a ‘new normal’, with increased safety procedures for all guests.
All 600-plus employees at Delaware Park were tested for COVID-19 before the casino reopened at the start of June.
President Bill Fasy said: “It’s been overwhelming how many people have been so happy they can get tested.”
The testing was not part of Delaware’s reopening requirements, but the casino decided to go ahead to guarantee safety for its customers and staff.
Delaware Park employee Melanie Chamberlin said: “There’s going to be some challenges (coming back to work).
“I’m a little uneasy considering the situation, but just trying to have a positive attitude.”
CEO of Twin River Worldwide Holdings, Inc., which owns Dover Downs, spoke of the casino’s new safety measures in a letter to guests.
Before entering casinos, all guests and staff members are now scanned with fever-detecting thermal cameras.
Gambling revenue in the state came to a complete stop for land-based casinos when the coronavirus lockdown was announced mid-March. Dealers put their cards down and well-loved slot machines were turned off for two months.
Fasy said Delaware Park is predicted to end 2020 in a loss as its revenues slipped by some 40%.
He said the casino didn’t believe it would even make a profit through its first ten days of being reopened due to new safety restrictions and lack of gaming options for players to try their luck.
The state’s Phase One guidelines limited casino occupancy to a mere 30%. Table games were not opened in the first phase, meaning casinos were relying on income from socially distanced gaming machines.
Slot machines were to be kept at least eight feet apart and disinfected at least every 2 hours.
The state entered Phase Two of reopening on June 15, operating at a maximum occupancy of 60%. Additional slot machines were turned on and some table games were restarted with clear screens to protect guests and staff.
Casino hotels have also reopened at 60% occupancy and some eateries have begun offering food and drink again for shorter hours. Valet, hotel fitness rooms and pools remain unavailable. The new phase has left casinos a little more hopeful about potential revenue, as they no longer have to rely on their best gaming machines alone.
Employees on hand to manage social distancing on the casino floor by stopping customers from congregating. Extra cleaners are on hand to keep the casino floor and slot machines as safe as possible. Despite this, just 40% of staff have returned to prevent further spread of the virus.
Fasy said Delaware Park was planning for a post-COVID situation where players did not touch chips. He added: “Not every table game player is going to like it, but it’s going to be safer for everyone.
“We all don’t know what it’s going to be like in six months or if there’s a recurrence, but I’m confident in the customer having the enthusiasm to return.”
Some casinos are looking into cashless gambling, allowing players to bet by card or a casino app. Others are exploring technology that will tell cleaners when it is time for a slot machine to be cleaned.
The Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission has allowed Delaware Park to conduct 65 days of live racing between June 17 and October 17. Spectators will not be allowed at Delaware Park, Harrington Raceway, or Dover Downs during the races to keep the environment as safe as possible.
The state’s coronavirus hospitalization levels are now at their lowest since mid-April, giving Delaware the chance to reopen slowly.