With Oaklawn’s Horse Meet Over, Property Ready To Reopen The Casino

Posted on May 13, 2020

The spectator-less horse racing meet at Oaklawn in Arkansas brought in plenty of betting for the property. However, with the meet over, the property is looking at other ways to keep things afloat. For the past 11 days, nothing has been taking place at the property, either on the track or on the gaming floor.

Therefore, Oaklawn Racing is ready to bring people to the property with a reopened casino.

The sportsbook won’t be part of this initial relaunch, however. That’s just one of many alterations that casino patrons will encounter in the near future.

Details on the Oaklawn Casino reopening plan

Oaklawn will open its casino doors again on Monday, May 18. Rather than return 24/7, the property will open from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, and 9 a.m.-5 a.m. on the weekends.

Restaurants inside the venue will also have limited hours. Additionally, the restaurants won’t seat parties of more than 10 people, nor will they be operating at full capacity.

The same applies to the gaming floor. For example, the casino will restrict blackjack tables to no more than three players at a time. Players have to sit apart from each other as well.

The casino will only run at one-third of its standard capacity. It will require all entrants to show ID so that the casino can cooperate with contract tracing protocols. There are other requirements for guests who wish to patronize the casino.

All guests must also submit to a noninvasive temperature check. Anyone with a temperature of 100 degrees or higher will not be permitted entry to the casino.

Also, all guests must wear masks. The casino will require all employees to submit to daily temperature checks and wear masks at all times as well.

Oaklawn has some experience in managing this situation, as it conducted horse racing with similar protocols over the past month. If it can expand that successful management to casino operations, it may be a beacon of hope for casino operators across the country.

How Oaklawn’s reopening strategy could catch on in other places

Oaklawn’s plans rank among the most cautious in the nation right now. Though, many other regional casinos have not fully divulged the specific safety plans that will come with reopenings.

Oaklawn’s safety measures could not only be good for employees’ and guests’ health but the casino’s public image as well. Casinos are one of many businesses that need to convince patrons that it’s safe to return to their premises in order to start seeing revenue again.

Oaklawn General Manager Wayne Smith stressed, “we will be ready and safe for you when you are,” in a news release for this reason. The mindset of potential guests about whether it’s safe to enter the premises is just as important as sanitation protocols on the grounds.

If Oaklawn is able to fill its new capacity regularly and avoid a spike in positive tests among employees and guests, it will be fair to label the reopening a success. Other casino operators around the country might replicate the strategy.

Of course, local and state governments in other jurisdictions will hold a lot of leverage in decisions to reopen casinos. Success at Oaklawn could go a long way toward convincing them it’s possible to offer casino gaming safely, though.

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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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