The US gaming and betting industry has all but ground to a halt this week as the COVID-19 pandemic continues its rapid spread. Statements have been issued by the sector’s big players, with temporary closures now being implemented across many of the country’s gambling venues.
The virus has also prompted suspension of all sporting activities for the likes of the NBA, NCAA, MLS, NHL and XFL, although the NFL insisted its season will begin this week as planned. Also affected are tennis and golf, with the ATP Tour and Masters tournaments suspended respectively.
Las Vegas has been hit particularly hard, with MGM, Caesars and Wynn among others confirming either full closure or cessation of services. MGM will suspend operations at its Las Vegas properties until further notice effective from Tuesday this week. Casino operations will close on Monday, followed by hotel operations on Tuesday.
CEO Jim Murren said: “Despite our commitment to dedicating additional resources for cleaning and promoting good health, while making difficult decisions to close certain aspects of our operations, it is now apparent that this is a public health crisis that requires major collective action if we are to slow its progression. Accordingly, we will close all of our Las Vegas properties as of Tuesday, March 17th, for the good of our employees, guests and communities.”
The firm has also been forced to comply with a Michigan Gaming Control Board order which sees temporary suspension of gaming operations at MGM Grand Detroit. “It is anticipated that it will remain closed for two weeks, at which time the status will be re-evaluated,” it noted.
Wynn Resorts, meanwhile, has temporarily closed Wynn Las Vegas and Encore as part of its continuing effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The company has committed to pay all full-time Wynn and Encore employees during the two-week closure which becomes effective on Tuesday this week.
Caesars Entertainment Corporation has yet to go as far as shutting down its Vegas venues, but has suspended all live entertainment shows until March 31. It has, however, closed four casinos in Indiana and Illinois in line with orders from those states’ respective gaming control boards.
Among the hardest hit in terms of venue closures is Penn National Gaming with sites affected in Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, Indiana, New Mexico and Michigan. At the time of going to press, the predicted period of closure was two weeks per location.
Ohio closures comprise Hollywood Casino Columbus; Hollywood Casino Toledo; Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway; and Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course.
The Illinois sites affected are Hollywood Casino Aurora, Hollywood Casino Joliet and Hollywood Casino Alton.
In Massachusetts, Penn has been forced to suspend operations at its Plainridge Park Casino, while in Indiana its Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg and Ameristar East Chicago venues are affected.
Joining the list of temporary shutdowns is Zia Park Casino Hotel & Racetrack in New Mexico and Greektown Casino Hotel in Michigan.
Boyd Gaming Corporation sees the temporary closure of five venues comprising Belterra Casino Resort and Blue Chip Casino Hotel and Spa in Indiana; Belterra Park in Ohio; Par-A-Dice Casino Hotel in Illinois and Valley Forge Casino Resort in Pennsylvania. “All closures are related to state officials’ efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said the firm.
Also impacted is Wind Creek Hospitality which confirmed the closure of its Alabama venues over the weekend for a period of 24 hours for an intensive deep clean. They were due to reopen today, albeit with social distancing measures in place.
Sportech has joined the ranks of those affected, releasing this statement. “Following careful consideration of the current progression of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Sportech have decided that all Connecticut Winners and Bobby V’s Restaurant & Sports Bar venues will temporarily close effective Monday March 16 at 5pm for an initial period through to the end of March 2020. This may be extended by local guidance.”
The firm added: “We wish to thank our extraordinary teams for their dedication and our valued customers for their patience and understanding as we work through this together. At Winners and Bobby V’s, our core business relies on sports and sports require stamina. We will all need that enduring quality to weather this situation, but together, weather it we will.”