As if Pennsylvania casinos could take any more hits, Governor Tom Wolf last week re-imposed restrictions on entertainment venues, closing casinos starting December 12, with the earliest reopening date January 4. He closed all indoor dining as well, only allowing outdoor dining and take out services.
“With these measures in place, we hope to accomplish three goals. First, stop the devastating spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth,” Wolf explained during a news conference. “Second, keep our hospitals and healthcare workers from becoming overwhelmed. And third, help Pennsylvanians get through the holiday season—and closer to a widely available vaccine—as safely as possible.”
“This is a bridge to a better future in Pennsylvania,” he said.
Rivers Casino in Philadelphia had already been closed by a similar declaration from the city’s mayor, but now all the other state casinos will also be required to shut down. The affected casinos are:
- Harrah’s Philadelphia
- Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
- Lady Luck Nemacolin
- Live! Casino Pittsburgh
- Meadows Casino and Racetrack
- Mohegan Sun Pocono
- Mount Airy Casino Resort
- Parx Casino
- Presque Isle Racetrack and Casino
- Rivers Pittsburgh
- Valley Forge Casino and Resort
- Wind Creek Bethlehem
Online gaming, including casino games and sports betting, is not impacted by the closings. Racetracks were not included in the order, so they will stay open. Parx, Harrah’s Philadelphia, Meadows and Penn National will continue to stage racing. Mohegan Sun at Pocono and Presque Isle Downs are normally closed this time of year.
Just one day prior to the announcement, Pennsylvania casinos had sent a letter to Wolf pleading to stay open.
“Our industry is one of the largest and most successful in the state,” the letter stated. “We generate more than $1.5 billion in annual tax revenues and invest more than $500 million in goods and services every year with businesses across the Commonwealth. Logistically, it is not feasible that we close our casinos’ doors within a few days’ notice. A casino is a massive business enterprise, and we are required to secure thousands of individual gaming devices; and move substantial sums of cash off-premises among other challenges.”
Wind Creek Bethlehem and Harrah’s Philadelphia said they would continue to pay their employees during this three-week shutdown.
Video games at gas stations and convenience stores have also been required to shut down. During the first shutdown, no specific order was given to close those games so many of them were left operational.