Updated: Eldorado, Penn and Boyd reopening Louisiana casinos under health and safety guidelines Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · May 18, 2020 at 6:20 pm Louisiana casinos were allowed to reopen Monday for the first time in two months, under a series of guidelines and regulations that have been put in place by state gaming regulators. Reno-based Eldorado Resorts said in a statement it would resume operations at Isle of Capri Lake Charles, Belle of Baton Rouge, and Eldorado Shreveport. Casinos throughout Louisiana closed in March in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Regulators and tribal governments closed nearly 1,000 casinos in 43 states over a two-week period. American Gaming Association CEO Bill Miller said last week that Louisiana is the first major commercial casino market to reopen. Figures released by the AGA indicate that Louisiana casinos produce $6.1 billion in annual economic impact and provided $1.5 billion in tax revenue to the state, while supporting almost 41,000 jobs. “The casinos have been excellent partners in the community in every aspect of quality of life for citizens, of nonprofits, (and) of business development, and they have stood, ready and willing to listen and help wherever they saw the need,” said Kyle Edminston, CEO of the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau. Eldorado officials said the properties would implement the Louisiana Gaming Control Board’s regulations, which limit gaming positions to 50% of prior levels and patron count at each facility to 25% occupancy of maximum allowable fire code levels. “As we resume operations at our properties, the health and safety of our team members and guests is our number one priority,” Eldorado President Anthony Carano said in a statement. “We have been working very hard over the last two months to prepare for the reopening of our casinos, and we look forward to providing the outstanding service and hospitality experiences Eldorado is known for in a safe manner.” The guidelines also include strict sanitizing requirements. “You had seating for six at a blackjack table, probably going to be seating for three now,” Ronnie Jones, chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, told a Baton Rouge television station. “The craps table might ordinarily accommodate 16 people. Under these restrictions, it will be a maximum of six.” Late Monday, Boyd Gaming Corp. said it would reopen its three Louisiana properties: Delta Downs Racetrack Casino Hotel, Evangeline Downs Racetrack Casino Hotel, and Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner outside of New Orleans, all on Wednesday. Next week, Boyd plans to resume operations at two additional properties in Louisiana, Amelia Belle Casino and Sam’s Town Shreveport. In addition, Boyd said it would reopen its two Mississippi properties on Thursday: IP Casino Resort in Biloxi and Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall in Tunica. The casinos will be the first Boyd Gaming properties to reopen following the nationwide gaming shutdown. Upon reopening, the properties will operate with limited amenities and capacity restrictions in compliance with state and local requirements. “As we begin the process of reopening our properties nationwide, the health and safety of our customers, our team members, and our communities will be our highest priority,” Boyd CEO Keith Smith said in a statement. “Across the country, we are implementing comprehensive safety protocols approved by local, state, and federal health officials. We are optimistic that we will be able to reopen most of our properties over the next several weeks, and we look forward to offering our guests a safe and enjoyable entertainment experience.” Boyd, which has 29 gaming properties in 10 states, also released comprehensive protocols aimed at protecting the health and safety of employees and guests. Under the “Boyd clean” program, employees will be required to wear face coverings and participate in mandatory temperature checks; there will be social distancing requirements and capacity restrictions enacted across all customer and employee areas, including casino floors and restaurants; enhanced cleaning and sanitation of all high-touch surfaces, including door handles, gaming machines, table games, handrails, and elevator buttons; increased placement of hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the properties; and required training for employees on safety protocols. Last week, Penn National Gaming CEO Jay Snowden said the company would reopen its five Louisiana properties under the Control Board’s guidelines. On Thursday, Penn plans to reopen the company’s five Mississippi casinos under similar conditions, including mandatory social distancing and other health and safety protocols. “We employ several thousand people at our casinos in Louisiana and Mississippi,” Snowden said. “These are some very happy phone calls we’re making to bring folks back.” Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.