Where US Casinos Stand On Reopening Plans

The COVID-19 pandemic forced US states to order shutdowns of non-essential businesses in mid-March. The U.S. hosts nearly 1,000 commercial and tribal casinos, and all of them ceased operations in the midst of the pandemic crisis.

Live casinos began reopening in some states as early as May, and as of July 1 most of the US casino industry is back in business.

The following list takes a look at where some US states stand in regards to retail casinos reopening:

Nevada

The epicenter for retail gambling in the US experienced statewide closures of casino properties in mid-March. Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered all Nevada casinos to cease operations on March 18. Several Las Vegas casinos had already shuttered operations before Sisolak’s order.

Reopen Date: June 4 – Casinos received the green light to open doors to the public again on June 4, as part of Nevada’s Phase 2 reopening plan. Sisolak ordered a mandatory mask requirement for all casino customers on June 26.

New Jersey

All non-essential businesses, including casinos, were ordered closed by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy March 16. This began an 11-week closure period for Atlantic City casinos.

Reopen Date: July 2 – Gov. Murphy authorized Atlantic City casinos to reopen July 2, with restrictions in place. Casinos can only operate at 25 percent customer capacity, and customers must wear masks at all times.

Restaurants are required to set up with at least six feet between all tables.

Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board mandated the closure of all state casinos on March 17. Half of the state’s 12 retail casinos were already closed before that deadline.

Reopen Date: June 9 (in selected areas) – Pennsylvania’s non-essential businesses will reopen on a county-by-county basis. Two Pittsburgh-area properties were the first to reopen in Pennsylvania, resuming operations June 9.

All of the state’s retail casinos are expected to reopen by July 3. Pennsylvania’s casinos will allow 50 percent customer capacity until further notice.

Live poker rooms at Pennsylvania casinos remain closed, however.

Colorado

Statewide closures took effect for Colorado casinos March 17. Both commercial and tribal casinos closed in response to the COVID pandemic.

Reopen Date: June 15, June 17 – All commercial casinos in Colorado reside in two counties, and each county got approval to reopen casinos in mid-June. Teller County, home to casinos in Cripple Creek, got approval to reopen June 15. Gilpin County casinos, which include properties in Black Hawk and Central City, resumed business on June 17.

Tribal casinos in Colorado are still closed, as the counties hosting those properties continue efforts to subdue virus outbreak numbers.

California

Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered non-essential businesses in California to close March 17. All of California’s 64 casinos operate as tribal casinos, with nearly 100 poker-only card rooms also doing business in the Golden State.

Reopen Date: May 18 – Tribal casinos began to resume operations May 18. Tribal lands don’t technically fall under Newsom’s jurisdiction, and as such weren’t obligated to reopening protocols issued by the California governor. As of June 30, most of California’s casinos are open to the public.

Michigan

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) shut down the state’s three commercial casinos on March 15. More than 20 tribal casinos throughout the state followed suit, though not under the jurisdiction of state laws.

Reopen Date: May 6, other dates throughout May (tribal properties only) – A tribal casino in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula became the first to reopen in the state May 6. Several other tribal casinos in Michigan resumed operations throughout May and June.

As of June 30, Michigan’s three commercial casinos, all in the Detroit area, have yet to reopen. The MGCB announced guidelines for the eventual reopening of casinos, including a 15 percent customer capacity limit and no live poker until further notice.

Florida

Florida’s seven full-service casinos all fall under tribal jurisdiction. The Seminole Tribe of Florida closed all six of its properties March 20. The other major casino, a Miami-area casino owned by the Miccosukee Tribe, closed days later at the request of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Reopen Dates: May 16, June 12 – Miccosukee Resort & Gaming resumed operations May 16. The Seminole Tribe reopened all six of its properties on June 12. As with other tribally owned properties, Florida’s seven major casinos aren’t bound by state-mandated shutdown orders.

Louisiana

The Louisiana Gaming Control Board halted operations of across all of Louisiana’s 20 commercial casinos March 17. All tribal casinos in the state also ceased operations at the same time.

Reopen Date: May 18 – Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards gave state casinos the green light to reopen May 18. Conditions on reopening mandated that commercial casinos can only allow 25 percent customer capacity, and only half of gaming table seats can be filled.

Indiana

The Indiana Gaming Commission shut down all commercial casinos in the state March 16. Indiana’s lone tribally-owned casino elected to shut down a day later.

Reopen Date: June 15 – All commercial and tribal casinos were permitted to resume operations on June 15. Reopening guidelines dictate that casinos must restrict capacity to 50% or less, and no live poker or Pai Gow games can run until the next phase of reopening.

Iowa

Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a shutdown order for all Iowa casinos on March 17. Iowa’s three tribal casinos weren’t bound to the order, but all three voluntarily shuttered operations shortly thereafter.

Reopen Date: May 27 (tribal casinos), June 1 (commercial casinos) – The first of Iowa’s tribal casinos to reopen did so on May 27. Gov. Reynolds allowed commercial casinos to resume business June 1. Casinos can individually choose to enforce face mask requirements and offer table games.

Illinois

The Illinois Gaming Board ordered a statewide shutdown of casinos that began March 16. Some of the state’s casinos already shut doors before that date.

Reopen Date: July 1 – July 1 marked the return of live casino gaming in Illinois. The Illinois Gaming Board allowed state casinos to reopen just in time for the July 4 holiday weekend. The reopening allowance also includes slot machines located at bars, restaurants and truck stops within the state.

West Virginia

West Virginia’s five commercial casinos closed operations on March 18. Gov. Jim Justice implemented a gradual reopening plan for non-essential businesses throughout the state. That plan included approval for casinos reopening June 5.

Reopen Date: June 5 – Reopening guidelines for West Virginia casinos allow each property to enforce COVID-19 safety precautions as they see fit. Masks are not required by law, but patrons are encouraged to wear masks inside the casinos.

Ohio

Gov. Mike DeWine issued an order banning gathering of more than 100 people March 13. As an extension of that mandate, the Ohio Casino Control Commission ordered casinos to close statewide.

Reopen Date: June 19 – After more than three months closed, Ohio casinos resumed business June 19. State-mandated requirements for reopening include a 50% customer capacity restriction, no live poker, and no live concerts until further notice.

Maryland

All Maryland casinos were forced to shut doors March 16, after Gov. Larry Hogan issued an emergency order. The shutdown order applied to all casinos and horse racetracks in the state.

Reopen Date: June 19 – All six of Maryland’s major commercial casinos received the green light to reopen June 19. Some properties waited until the end of June to reopen, giving each casino time to configure their casino floors with customer safety in mind.

Missouri

Casinos throughout Missouri shut down on March 18, after an order from Gov. Mike Parson. In collaboration with the Missouri Gaming Commission, state casinos stayed closed for two-and-a-half months.

Reopen Date: June 1 – June 1 marked the day when Missouri players were once again permitted to visit retail casinos. The Missouri Gaming Commission isn’t restricting casinos to operate with limited capacity, and each individual casino can enforce safety precautions as they see fit.

About the Author

Geoff Fisk

Geoff Fisk is a San Diego-based writer, specializing in the poker and gambling industries. He’s written for numerous platforms and has traveled the globe as a live poker tournament reporter. Geoff’s interests include the legal online poker industry in the U.S. and abroad.