BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — The first phase of reopening businesses in Louisiana begins Friday, but casinos and video poker establishments will have to wait until at least Monday.
Under the ‘Roadmap to a Resilient Louisiana: Phase One’ proclamation Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected to sign Thursday, a number of businesses will be allowed to open Friday, May 15 under certain restrictions.
A list of the kinds of businesses that will be allowed to reopen was released Monday under the updated statewide stay-at-home order included casinos and video poker establishments, but state gaming officials say they will need their reopening plans approved first.
According to Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chairman Ronnie Jones, each of the venues must submit an application and have their revised floor plans for gambling space approved by Louisiana State Police before they can re-open.
“The gaming floor will look different because perhaps every other slot machine will be taken out of service to force customers to have some distance between themselves,” said Jones.
As per state guidelines, there will be a 25 percent capacity limit in each casino and customer and employee temperatures must be screened. Enhanced sanitation protocols will also be required.
Jones said the capacity limits and uncertainty among consumers in the current climate will have an impact on the staffing needs at the casinos.
“We don’t know how many jobs may be lost to this pandemic,” said Jones. “We know there will be some erosion of positions. I think that is anticipated and expected.”
The gaming industry has a huge impact on Louisiana’s economy, bringing in about $1 billion annually. According to state police estimates, the coronavirus closures took about a $100 million hit to gaming revenue from mid-March to April 30.
“When the casinos and video poker are shut down, it’s not just the gaming industry that suffers,” said Jones. “It has a ripple effect in every community where you have these gaming facilities located.”
Casinos and players are being asked to make some adjustments to keep the games rolling.
“We’re all going through this together,” said Jones. “There’s a transition phase and we know that things will gradually and over time continue to open up and we’ll return to some level of normalcy.”
So far, there’s no official re-opening date for any Shreveport or Bossier City casinos.
Sam’s Town provided a statement to KTAL/KMSS in response to the casino reopening:
“We are excited for the opportunity to resume business at Sam’s Town. However, we are still receiving directions on re-opening protocols and procedures from state officials.
“Once we know the conditions for re-opening, we can determine a re-opening date for Sam’s Town, and we will share that information as soon as possible.
“We look forward to offering our guests an enjoyable and safe entertainment experience in the very near future.“