Louisiana casinos begin reopening with 25% occupancy

Louisiana is the latest state to permit the reopening of its casinos amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Casinos across the state of Louisiana were permitted to reopen yesterday (18 May) after Governor John Bel Edwards lifted several restrictions related to the coronavirus.

Last week, on 15 May, Edwards said the state would enter the first phase of its ‘Roadmap to a Resilient Louisiana’ permitting several businesses in the state to reopen.

Restaurants, gyms, cafes, cinemas, museums, fitness centres and shopping malls were among the facilities that were permitted to reopen from 15 May. Racetracks were also permitted to reopen but without spectators in attendance.

Other businesses such as arcades, pool halls, fairs, amusement parks, playgrounds, theme parks and adult entertainment venues must remain closed until further notice.

The reopening of Louisiana’s casinos

Casinos and video poker establishments throughout the state are also able to reopen but with several safety measures in place.

To help allow for social distancing, the state’s casinos and video poker venues will only operate at 25% capacity, while offering only 50% of their gaming positions. The gaming positions in these venues will be spaced out to allow for social distancing.

However, before reopening, gambling facilities in the state must have a plan approved by the Gaming Control Board and commit to enhanced sanitation at their venues.

Despite the order to allow for the reopening of businesses, Edwards said that Louisianans should stay at home as much as possible and that residents who are at high risk should remain at home unless they are travelling for essential activities.

Edwards said: “Thanks to the hard work of the people of Louisiana under the Stay at Home order, we have seen declining new Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations. This, coupled with increased testing and contact tracing capacity, is what is allowing us to move to Phase One.

“While this a step forward for our state, I want to encourage the public and business owners to proceed cautiously and to take the necessary steps to protect themselves, including wearing a protective face covering like a cloth mask when they are in public, keeping social distance from people outside of their households and practising good hygiene.”

Louisiana’s sports betting efforts

The reopening of the state’s casinos comes after the Louisiana State Senate passed a bill to legalize sports betting last week. The bill, SB 130, was approved by a margin of 29-8 and will now be sent to the House of Representatives for further discussion.

Under the proposed legislation, the state will hold a parish-by-parish referendum on whether or not to allow sports wagering in the state. Sports betting may only be offered in parishes that vote in favour of sports betting.

If the legislation is successful, the sports betting question will appear on the ballot during the 3 November 2020 election.

The reopening of US casinos

Several states across the US are putting plans together to allow for the safe reopening of gambling venues despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this month, the Nevada Gaming Control Board said that casinos in the state must place limits on the number of players in the venues.

Operators are also preparing to reopen, last week MGM Resorts said it has put together a seven-point safety strategy for reopening based on advice from medical and scientific experts.

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