Missouri Casino Reopening Date Pushed To June 1

Posted on May 21, 2020

Missouri casinos reopening are a matter of time. However, there is still not much clarity on how those reopenings will look. So far, the Missouri Gaming Commission has given no directives on continued COVID-19 precautions.

The commission delayed authorization to open the doors to the public again until all gaming facilities in the state are ready to do so. Further details may come this week.

Missouri casinos reopen altogether next month

While the commission previously looked at giving clearance to reopen on May 15, that became problematic. Some casinos, like those in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas, were still under local closure orders at that time.

If the May 15 clearance went forward, that could have allowed some casinos in the state a head start over others. For example, Ameristar Casino in St. Charles could have opened before Hollywood Casino in Maryland Heights despite the fact the properties are 5 miles apart.

That’s because different county governments have jurisdiction over the two casinos. The stay-at-home order in St. Louis County extended through May 15, while the same in St. Charles County expired earlier this month.

For that reason, the commission pushed back the go-ahead date to June 1. That allows every facility in the state time to prepare for welcoming guests again.

To date, none of the facilities in the state have confirmed they will reopen on the first day of June. Details on what the “new normal” will be when they do are also scant right now.

Commission yet to weigh in on safety protocols

Although there are reports that casinos will alter their gaming floors and require staff to wear masks, there have been no official directives from the commission on those subjects. The casino operators may be behind those standards themselves.

With nearly two weeks before June 1, there is still time for the commission to set standards for cleanliness and safety upon launch. Regulatory bodies in other states have adopted that role.

For example, Mississippi’s gaming commission requires all casino workers to submit to daily screenings for symptoms of the disease and wear masks. The MO Gaming Commission may still set down similar rules.

As the onus will be on casino operators to convince patrons it’s safe to return, they may exceed any protocols the commission requires. That may include requiring guests to wear masks in certain places where it’s difficult to maintain proper distancing.

As the calendar turns closer to June 1, each MO casino should release more information about its guidelines for customers. What’s certain is that both they and the state are eager to get up and running again.

Two months of shutdown means millions of dollars of lost revenue

Reports estimate the state has lost $1M per day in revenue while the state’s casinos haven’t been operating. As the shutdown began on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), it comes to an unlucky figure of nearly $60 million.

That’s just the lost tax revenue for the state. That figure doesn’t count the lost revenue for the casinos themselves or the lost revenue for other businesses that casino workers normally patronize.

In addition, there’s the fallout of state programs that may see their funding cut. Figuring for those factors as well, the overall impact of the MO casino shutdown is likely far greater than that $60 million figure.

Although it might take some time to get back to running at full speed, it’s good news that MO casinos will be open at all soon. The details on what that will look like are fuzzy right now, but the operators will do all they can to make guests comfortable given the circumstances.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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