Since the middle of March, the casino industry-like most businesses during a global pandemic-has been completely turned on its head. Social distancing and quarantine mandates in March, April, and the early part of May have made it virtually impossible for casinos to operate.
But as we get closer to Memorial Day Weekend, a few states are beginning to loosen their regulations around "essential business" and quarantine orders. As of May 19th, only Arkansas, South Dakota, and Louisiana have commercial casinos open. There are seven states including California, Arizona, and North Carolina where tribal casinos are opened on a case-by-case basis.
Sports Illustrated's gambling analyst and Las Vegas insider Frank Taddeo explains how some casinos are getting creative on enforcing social distancing.
Read the full transcript from the Gambling Today interview from May 19th:
Bill Enright: Gambling today from Tuesday, May 19th, and we are focusing on casinos starting to reopen across the country. Let's go to our Vegas insider, Frank Taddeo with the latest report. Frank, what do you got?
Frank Taddeo: Yeah, Bill, while Vegas casinos remain closed, nearby casinos over in Arizona reopened this past weekend and they reopened strong. Long lines began forming in the early morning hours and wrapped around five casinos in Phoenix, eager for doors to open. After months of isolation and boredom, gamblers were excited to get inside and be able to sit down at their favorite slot machine or their favorite blackjack table. Commercial casinos in Louisiana and Arkansas also opened on Monday while those in Mississippi plan on opening on Thursday.
Casinos in Missouri are going to open on June 1st. However, not all the news was positive in Louisiana, as one property announced it would not be able to survive the coronavirus shut down: The DiamondJack's Casino and Hotel announced it would be closing its doors for good due to business circumstances caused by the unexpected impact of the coronavirus. Casinos remain closed around by Nevada but their focus is going to be on tourists and not locals like these other casinos in different states. With immense reductions in attractions and amenities, the Las Vegas strip is going to face the tremendous task of convincing gamblers to travel, especially getting on a plane in the upcoming summer months, Bill. So Vegas has a longer and a tougher road than some of these other casinos.
Bill Enright: Nevada, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. All of them have casinos closed indefinitely. Frank, thank you for your report. Plenty more gambling news. You can find more of it from Sports Illustrated by going to SI.com/gambling.