Add Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis, AR, to the list of casinos that have now reopened.
Southland is one of dozens of casinos across the country that are welcoming visitors once again after closing in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Slots only to start, no table games or greyhound racing
Located just a short 10-minute drive from Memphis, Southland closed the morning of March 17 in accordance with health authorities’ guidelines.
According to the Commercial Appeal, guests began lining up several hours before Southland opened its doors at 9 a.m. on Monday.
Those who entered found a number of new protocols introduced to help protect the health of both visitors and staff.
First off, there is no live greyhound racing. The sports bar has reopened, but the sportsbook remains closed. In addition, there aren’t any table games yet, and only a limited number of slot machines are in service to encourage social distancing between patrons.
Normally open 24 hours, Southland has reduced its hours of operation in order to allow staff to clean the casino thoroughly each day. The casino is open from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and from 9 a.m. to 5 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
The number of patrons was reduced as well to 33% of the casino’s capacity. Typically the casino can accommodate up to 6,000 guests at once, including 3,000 in the first-floor gaming area.
“We don’t want crowds,” explained Southland Senior Director of Marketing Jeff Strang to the Commercial Appeal. “We want to make sure people stay safe, but we want to make sure it’s fun for all during this time.”
‘Play It Safe’ program outlines Southland safety protocols
Such measures are part of the comprehensive Play It SafeTM | Commitment to Care program that has been adopted by Delaware North, the New York-based hospitality and entertainment group that owns and operates Southland.
Elements of the program directed toward guests include:
- Adhering to social distancing protocols when waiting outside to enter and upon entering the facility.
- Having their visit recorded and ID registered in a guest registry.
- Wearing a mask or other face-covering during a visit.
- Agreeing to temperature screening and health check upon entering.
- Having entry refused if they exhibit symptoms or risk factors associated with COVID-19.
Staff must follow similar protocols, including wearing masks while on duty.
Southland has added hand-sanitizer stations throughout the casino. Patrons can also press a “change” button on a slot machine before playing in order to request Southland staff to give it a sanitary wipe down.
As other casinos that are reopening have done, Southland is currently prohibiting smoking within the facility. Patrons who smoke can do so in designated smoking areas outside.
Southland joins other casino reopenings near TN
As noted, many casinos across the country are welcoming back visitors, including several within close proximity to Tennessee.
The two Harrah’s Cherokee casinos in western North Carolina also reopened in a limited fashion on Monday.