Without Sports Betting, Online Casino Gaming Provides Option

Without Sports Betting, Online Casino Gaming Provides Option

Every major sporting event is postponed for the foreseeable future because of the coronavirus. But that doesn’t mean gambling is on hiatus.

Casinos — land-based and online — aren’t going anywhere.

Sports betting will be highly limited for the next month, especially on U.S.-based events. But gambling in general remains alive and well. Casinos are putting resources into ensuring that doesn’t change, considering health and safety for those looking to sit at table games or slot machines.

Bettors also have the option to avoid brick-and-mortar casinos and gamble online. You can play online poker in five states — New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia. Except for Nevada, the others have additional online casino games like online slots. West Virginia and Michigan have legalized online casinos with target launch dates of later this year.

The coronavirus, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, has spread from Asia across Europe and is now rapidly making its way across North America. In two weeks, Italy went from three confirmed cases to more than 12,000. More than 1,200 cases have been officially identified in the United States in a short amount of time.

The pandemic has forced postponement or delay of the NBA, NHL and MLB seasons, cancellation of the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments and much more. Late Thursday the PGA Tour canceled its events through the end of the Texas Valero Open on April 5.

You Can Always Play Online

The sights and sounds of playing at a brick-and-mortar casino can’t be replicated at home, but the gaming often can (though you can simulate it somewhat in live-dealer online casinos).

Dr. Christopher Drumm of the Einstein Healthcare Network and co-host of the podcast “Doc and the Deacon” says while physical sportsbooks might be relatively safe, those interested in hitting the slots may want to take a break.

“They should definitely play online now. This is the time where you might want to cut back on going out and being social,” Drumm told playpennsylvania.com. “If I went to a casino, I wouldn’t be playing the slots. I would consider, at this time, decreasing visits to the casino. But I would be more comfortable if you were in the sportsbook as opposed to touching the slot machine.”

Poker professional Daniel Nergranu said he believes online poker should be the trend in the immediate future.

Vegas Still Open For Business

Las Vegas is isn’t shutting down unless the outbreak becomes overwhelming. Casinos in the Chinese gambling hub of Macau shut down, and Wynn properties there are reportedly losing $2.6 million per day during the closure. They reopened in Macau with some restrictions on Thursday.

Betting on March Madness marks an annual pilgrimage for thousands around the nation to the desert city. The CONEXPO-CON/AGG, North America’s largest construction trade show, is happening right now in Vegas with an attendance of 120,000 expected. Its main plan regarding the coronavirus is to have a nurse and first aid professional on hand for anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms.

The coronavirus hasn’t engulfed the Las Vegas area yet, but it’s coming. Five cases have tested positive in Clark County. One of those who tested positive visited The Mirage on the Strip while feeling ill to attend the Women in Power Summit March 5-8, according to USA Today. More than 1,000 attendees were registered for the event.

Buffets Altered or Eliminated

The casinos are planning to stay open, and are upping the ante in regards to keeping consumers healthy.

MGM Resorts International on Tuesday announced its buffets would be closed starting Monday until further notice at its seven properties on the Las Vegas Strip.

Other Vegas locales, such as Caesars and the Wynn, are adding buffet staff so customers don’t have to dish up their own helpings on the line.

Proactive & Heightened Cleaning

MGM Resorts spokesman Brian Ahern says the companies properties — that includes seven hotels on the Vegas Strip — are “reinforcing proactive cleaning” by placing hand sanitizing stations throughout casinos with the idea that if guests keep their hands clean, the odds of the virus spreading are greatly reduced.

Wynn CEO Matt Maddox assured travelers in a statement that its properties have also heightened cleaning procedures. That includes busy public touch points, such as handrails, elevator buttons, door handles and knobs being cleaned multiple times throughout the day, surfaces such as front desk, restaurant counters and dining tables are wiped regularly.

On the floor, slot machines are wiped and surfaces cleaned multiple times throughout the day, and table dealers are instructed to wash hands after every break before returning to a game.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to make Wynn and Encore a respite when you visit one of our resorts,” Maddox wrote. “We’ve decided to raise our usual standards of cleanliness and health safety even higher. We assure you we will be attentive and vigilant so you can enjoy your vacation.”

Caesars announced it would closely monitor employees for possible illness, add sanitizing stations in high-traffic areas, while a senior management team meets daily to address next steps in this fluid situation.

“There is no issue more important to us than making sure we manage this situation as effectively as possible so you continue to feel confident visiting us,” Caesars CEO Tony Rodio wrote in the statement sent Tuesday to Caesars Rewards members.

In other words, the world keeps spinning. The World Poker Tour stop at the Venetian in Las Vegas and the World Series of Poker event at Harrah’s in Atlantic City, both scheduled for this weekend, remain a go.

East Coast Casinos Update

Similar measures are being felt at Pennsylvania casinos and New Jersey casinos, where coronavirus has had a much larger impact so far.

Atlantic City casinos have also installed hand sanitizers throughout the properties and stepped up efforts to clean and disinfect common areas. Many hotels are temporarily allowing guests to cancel or change reservations without penalty.

“We have taken proactive measures to help minimize customer concerns including, frequently sanitizing surfaces in high-traffic areas, adding hand sanitizers throughout the casino, encouraging good hygiene practices amongst our staff, requiring employees who have traveled to certain areas to stay home for 21 days before returning to work and following all other CDC recommended guidelines,” said Tom Pohlman, executive vice president of the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City.

Patrons can also do their part and still enjoy the action.

“We brought wipes with us; I’ll put a glove on before I touch the machines, and wipe down the machines before we start playing,” Atlantic City casino visitor Ken Revelinski told Philadelphia TV station NBC10.