Regardless of the purpose of their visits to any Mississippi casino or sportsbook for the indefinite future, all guests will now face a mask requirement. The Mississippi Gaming Commission announced the new policy Thursday.
Beginning Friday, July 3, and until further notice, if you set foot inside any MS casino, you must have a face mask on. The new rule extends existing measures at some MS casinos.
Details on the new mask requirement at Mississippi casinos
According to the new regulation, the only times casino-goers are exempt are while drinking, eating, or when a casino employee asks them to temporarily remove their masks for identification purposes. At all other times, a mask must be covering casino patrons’ mouths and noses.
The MGC directed its licensees to advise those who violate the policy of the state-mandated rules. The MGC also supports any operator who wishes to ask those who violate the policy to leave.
Several MS casinos already had similar policies in place. For example, Gold Strike and Horseshoe in Tunica already voluntarily mandated guests wear face masks at all times.
Others only required gamblers to wear masks when in close proximity areas, such as elevators and gaming tables. That option is no longer valid for the time being.
As far as the logic behind the new policy goes, it’s all about slowing the spread of COVID-19. New spikes in hospitalizations and/or positive tests could lead to another complete shutdown of gambling in MS.
Other states, like New Jersey, have gone further on safety precautions than Mississippi, mandating contact tracing and temperature checks as well. Such measures may still be in the cards for the MGC if the mask mandate proves insufficient.
The big question now is how this will affect business at Mississippi casinos. So far, it seems the restrictions haven’t dampened gamblers’ spirits in the state.
MS casinos, sportsbooks doing well despite safety demands
Since the MGC gave MS casinos and sportsbooks the all-clear to resume operations with restrictions, the returns haven’t been too shabby. In fact, Memorial Day weekend 2020 was a better showing by some metrics than the same period last year.
While absence may have made MS casino patrons’ hearts grow fonder, it looks like the same could be said of sports bettors. In the last 10 days of May, MS sportsbooks took in nearly $250,000 in wagers.
The numbers for June will show whether any of that demand has staying power. The new mask requirement is likely to have one of two effects.
The new mandate could act as a deterrent for casino guests who are wary of having to wear a mask the entire time they are on property. On the other hand, it could inspire confidence for those who feel visiting a casino is unsafe.
It’s uncertain right now how long the MGC will keep the mask requirement in place. What’s certain, however, is that until they reverse course anyone making the trip from Tennessee should come prepared.