State’s casinos and gaming facilities can open next week with cap on devices and occupancy

Updated: May. 12, 2020 at 4:49 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Casinos and video poker venues can reopen Monday, with a cap on gaming devices.

Facilities will also need to be restructured to comply with social distancing.

"Some cases that might mean cutting a slot machine off and having them use every other device. It would mean that instead of having six players seated at a Blackjack table, you might have three," Ronnie Jones, Chair of the Louisiana Commission Gaming Task Force said.

The task force initially made a recommendation to allow 50 percent occupancy in casinos, which was cut in half.

“The governor and his staff decided that in this first phase, that all businesses would be capped at 25 percent occupancy. So to make it consistent, that’s going to be done in gaming as well,” Jones said.

In addition, only a quarter of gaming equipment can be used.

"The gaming position is a slot machine, a seat at a Blackjack table, a position at a Craps table, and there's been some concern that that will prevent some operators from opening," Jones said.

He says some casinos may find it more cost effective to open at a later date.

"Some may make a business decision that they would lose less money by not opening rather than opening and having too much overhead, and not enough customers," Jones said.

State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says they're working with the Department of Health and Governor's Office to help businesses reopen in Phase I.

"Fundamentally, what we've created a week ago was an online portal to where businesses that are closed right now can start receiving real time information as we know it," Browning said.

He says they will not be citing unless it's necessary, and businesses will be expected to self regulate.

"The beauty of phase one is we give the businesses their parameters where the businesses basically work off of each other," Browning said.

Although gaming venues can open Monday, it may take longer, depending on their proposals.

“The 20 casinos in the state, 199 truck stops all have to file a reopening plan with state police. That has to be reviewed and approved before they can reopen,” Jones said.

Under the new guidelines, the temperatures of customers and employees will be screened, and employees will have to wear face masks.

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