Casinos plan for reopening Monday; big changes on the way for gamblers

Updated: May. 18, 2020 at 4:04 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Come Monday, May 18, those who want to beat the odds at the slots will see some big changes.

Starting Monday, any casino in Louisiana that wants to reopen will have to submit a plan to the state on how patrons will be kept safe.

A series of guidelines and regulations implemented by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board outline what changes casinos will need to make in order to reopen. Included are strict sanitizing guidelines, a reduction in capacity to 25%, and a reduction in games.

“You had seating for six at a blackjack table, probably going to be seating for three now,” said Ronnie Jones, chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board. “The craps table might ordinarily accommodate 16 people. Under these restrictions, it will be a maximum of six.”

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Staff members will also be required to take the temperature of every guest that comes through the doors, offer them a mask, and wipe down every machine that’s touched.

At the Belle of Baton Rouge, management is taking those restrictions a step further. All tables will be closed and the hours of operation will be limited to 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

During the hours the casino is closed, staff will do a deep-clean to ensure everything is safe for gamblers when the floor reopens.

“I want everybody to have a good experience, now granted, the experience is going to be, people are going to have to understand the experience isn’t going to be typically what they experienced prior to COVID-19,” said Jim Rigot, the general manager for the Belle. “There’s going to be limitations, there’s going to be restrictions, but if everybody works with us, we’ll get through this together.”

While it’s not required, the Belle’s hotel will remain closed and food services will be limited as well.

“People shouldn’t come in here with the expectation that things are going to be normal,” Rigot said.

L’Auberge has also released its plans for reopening. Officials said restaurant offerings will be limited to prepackaged sandwiches, drinks, and snacks from PJ’s Coffee Shop and for VIP guests at Club 38. They added The Stadium, Bon Temps Buffet, 18 STEAK Bar and Restaurant, and Edge Bar will remain closed. The poker room, hotel, and valet will also be closed.

“We are very excited to reopen L’Auberge Baton Rouge on Monday, May 18th at 8:00am," said Kim Ginn, vice president and general manager, in a statement on the casino’s website. “While the amenities our customers have come to know and love may be somewhat limited for the time being, the ability to safely welcome back our team members and guests remains our top priority. With this in mind, we have been working closely with the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, state and local leaders, and public health officials to finalize comprehensive Phase I reopening protocols and new health and safety precautions. Our returning team members will be trained on these procedures and our guests will see reminder signage about them throughout the property.”

Hollywood Casino released information Sunday, May 17 on its reopening plan.

“I am excited to announce that we will reopen our casino on Monday, May 18th at Noon,” said Jeannie Magdefrau, the casino’s general manager. “It will be a little different when you arrive since our number one priority is to ensure the safety and health of our customers and our employees. There will be some amenities that will not be available at this time, however, our deli will be available for you to enjoy our wonderful poboys, sandwiches and all your favorite items. I will continue to update you on the openings of our other amenities as soon as possible.”

Magdefrau added there will be no self-serve of beverages, as cocktail servers will be providing all soft drinks. Valet, bars, buffet, and Celebrity Grill will remain closed.

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