State casino operators developing procedures for safe reopenings

by Administrator

Online gambling is up but overall gaming revenue down as casinos remain closed.

Online gambling is up across the state but overall gaming revenue way down as casinos remain closed due to the coronavirus, and operators are working with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on procedures to maintain safety when establishments do reopen.

Minimum requirements will include the wearing of masks by patrons, discouraging patrons from wearing hats, hand sanitizing stations at all entrances, six-foot social distancing requirements in all areas where patrons line up to enter or for services, and the appointment of a pandemic safety officer at all casinos.

“Casinos shall consider implementing methods for identifying people who have a fever or show other symptoms (of the coronavirus), and not allowing those people on the gaming floor,” the board said in a document released this week.

“While these guidelines for casino operations will be subject to amendment as we move closer to a time of reopening, we believe the plan will be effective in mitigating and reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for all employees, patrons and other guests,” gaming control board Executive Director Kevin O’Toole said.

Bensalem Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo said he and many others are anxious for the casino in that township, Parx, to start humming again, provided it can be done safely.

“We’re looking forward to their reopening so they can get their people back to work again, generate revenue and continue to be a great part of the Bensalem business community,” he said.

The township gets an annual $10 million host fee from Parx. DiGirolamo said he believes Bensalem will still get that payment despite the casino being closed for several weeks and losing business.

“I know they’ve talked about deferring some payments but I think we still get the host fee,” he said. “It’s in our budget, it’s part of our operating budget.”

Parx officials did not respond to requests for comment.

“It’s time for a lot of businesses to reopen so people can get out there and start getting their lives back together,” Bensalem Councilman Joseph Pilieri said.

“I’m sure Parx would be responsible, and I know we’re prepared to do whatever we need to do to help assure the safe reopening of businesses.”

The PGCB reported that internet gaming saw significant growth in April, with revenue jumping from $24 million in March to $43 million in April, a 73% increase. Parx internet gambling totaled $4 million in April.

However, overall gaming revenue is down 84% since the pandemic closed casinos and other establishments, the gaming board reported.

With most major professional and college sports shut down, sports betting is also suffering, according to

After generating a record $348.4 million in January, Pennsylvania sportsbooks accounted for just $46 million in April, a news release from the organization said.

“Until sports leagues figure out a way to reopen, those dreary results will continue,” PlayPennsylvania analyst Valerie Cross said.