Pennsylvania To Close Casinos

As COVID-19 continues to surge in the US, the state of Pennsylvania is the latest to announce statewide closures of casinos for the next several weeks. Pennsylvania is just the latest state to implement such measures, though it certainly won’t be the last: health experts in the United States are indicating that this most recent wave of COVID-19 infections is likely to be the deadliest yet.

A movie theater marquee in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, US.

Movie theaters, casinos, museums, and other businesses will be affected by the new rules. ©12019/Pixabay

Governor Tom Wolf’s Announcement

On Thursday, December 10, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced in a public statement that Pennsylvania would be re-instituting strict measures to contain the spread of the novel respiratory virus known as COVID-19. According to Governor Wolf’s statement, these measures should last until 8 a.m. Monday, January 4, 2021.

The New Rules

According to Governor Wolf’s announcement, the lockdown would go into effect by 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, December 12, giving business owners just a few days to begin making preparations to shutter their operations for the time being. The new rules will affect a number of factors across everyday life, including business, socializing, and sports.

For a several week period, indoor dining is no longer permitted at restaurants in Pennsylvania, though to-go service is allowed. Diners are allowed to be served alcoholic beverages if they are eating outdoors, though such beverages cannot be served past 11 p.m. If diners are still drinking alcohol after midnight, these drinks will be taken away.

When customers go inside businesses, they are mandated to wear facial coverings. School sports, including extracurricular youth sports, will be temporarily suspended from December 12, 2020, until January 4, 2021. Any business with in-person operations can only serve a maximum capacity of 50%.

How Will Casinos Be Affected?

As part of this rule, any facility which offers indoor entertainment is effectively barred from opening its doors during the weeks from December 12 until January 4. This means that locations like museums, cinemas, and casinos will not be able to operate for this period of time.

Effective Immediately, The Casinos Closing

As such, Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos have closed beginning on December 12, and will remain closed through early January. The casinos affected include Wind Creek Bethlehem, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Live! Casino Pittsburgh, Mohegan Sun Pocono, Harrah’s Philadelphia, Lady Luck Nemacolin, Rivers Pittsburgh, and others.

Some Casinos Had Already Closed

In fact, the new regulation had no impact on at least one casino in Pennsylvania: namely, Rivers Casino Philadelphia, which was forced to close its doors on November 20, 2020, following orders from the city government. At the time, the casino stated that it would remain closed until at least January 1, 2021.

Simultaneously, the South Philadelphia Race and Sportsbook also announced that it would be closing for at least several weeks. Now, neither business has a choice, and must remain closed until at least January 4, 2021. At that point, should COVID-19 infections decrease, they will be given permission to reopen.

Which Forms Of Gambling Will Be Affected?

Following Governor Wolf’s announcement, gamblers in Pennsylvania may be wondering how their activities may be impacted by this latest development. This latest closure impacts only land-based gambling which takes place indoors: namely, traditional casinos and combined racetrack-casinos.

Other forms of gambling, such as iGaming, sports betting, and fantasy sports contests which involve wagering, remain permitted under these regulations. It is, as yet, extremely unusual for land-based gambling restrictions due to COVID-19 to have any additional effect on online gambling offerings.

COVID Cases In Pennsylvania Are Skyrocketing

The difficult, unpopular decision to reimplement lockdown measures in Pennsylvania comes after recorded cases of COVID-19 in the state continue to reach an all-time high. In fact, as Governor Wolf gave the address on December 12, he spoke from home as he himself had tested positive for the novel respiratory virus.

Coronavirus Hits Harder Than Ever In The US

As of December 12, 2020, more than 440,000 of Pennsylvania’s residents have tested positive for COVID-19. More than 11,000 Pennsylvanians have died of coronavirus. Though the nation has been consistently grappling with COVID-19 since March of this year, the cold months have seen infection rates soar to dizzying heights.

According to reports from the Associated Press, health officials in the country are anticipating that the combined holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s will likely only increase the surge in COVID-19 cases, as ongoing political turmoil in the US has led to confusing policy regarding COVID-19 lockdown, including for socializing.

Pennsylvania Casinos Aren’t The Only Ones Affected

For those who have been keeping up with the trends in land-based US gambling, it is likely no surprise to learn that Pennsylvania is far from the only state in the country implementing — or re-implementing — controversial lockdown measures to curb the continued spread of the dangerous virus.

In Early December, Strict Rules For Nevada Casinos

At the beginning of December, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced harsh lockdown measures for the state, including particularly strict orders for the city of Las Vegas. Casinos in Nevada will not have to close, but they will be subject to a strict maximum capacity of 25%.

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Sunset over the Philadelphia skyline in Pennsylvania, US.

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