Pennsylvania, like so many other states across the country, is experiencing a spike in new COVID-19 cases. That’s resulted in one casino being forced to once again close.
The City of Philadelphia is ordering, effective Friday, Nov. 20, and lasting through Jan. 1, 2021, Rivers Philadelphia to be closed. The casino shuttering is part of the city’s “Safer at Home” policy, which prohibits indoor dining and all indoor gatherings and events, including weddings, showers, funerals — and, yes, gambling.
Rivers is one of three casinos in the Philly area, but the only one inside the city limits in Philadelphia County. Parx Casino in Bensalem, Bucks County, and Harrah’s Philadelphia in Chester, Delaware County, are free of the “Safer at Home” directive.
A Good Surge
Though coronavirus cases are rising, Pennsylvania’s gaming industry enjoyed a fruitful October. Gross gaming revenue (GGR) from land-based operations, online gambling, sports betting, and video gaming terminals totaled $320.2 million, a 12.9 percent premium in October 2019.
Online casinos and sports betting both set new monthly records. GGR from internet slots soared from $3.9 million in October 2019, to $40.3 million. Interactive tables jumped from less than a million dollars to nearly $17 million.
Sportsbooks kept $36.7 million of the money their customers wagered, representing a 146 percent year-over-year hike. Pennsylvania sports betting handle totaled a record $525.8 million in October.
The state becomes just the third in history to surpass more than half of a billion dollars in sports bets in a single month. The other two are Nevada and New Jersey.
Parx and Harrah’s, as well as Pennsylvania’s other nine land-based casino properties, are on high alert knowing that they, too, could join Rivers Philadelphia in being forced to go dark.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) required the casinos to close in mid-March. They began reopening in June in phases based on regional coronavirus numbers. The Philly casinos were last to reopen.
New cases per day in the Commonwealth have ballooned from around 1,000 every 24 hours in July through September to more than 3,000-4,000 in October and November. Last week, the state reported a record of 5,893 new cases in a single day.
Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today announced “targeted efforts” to slow the spread.
They include the mandatory wearing of masks outdoors when social distancing of at least six feet is not possible. Masks must be worn indoors at all times while in public settings. Masks can only be removed to eat and drink while seated at a restaurant table.
Right now, we are experiencing a dangerous surge in COVID-19 cases,” explained Wolf. “This virus is tough. But together, Pennsylvanians are tougher. Let’s work together to stop the spread.”
Anyone coming into Pennsylvania beginning Friday must receive a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival, or self-isolate for 14 days. As for regulating the new directives, Levine says it’s the responsibility of business owners and the public.
“Now that the election is over and the people have spoken, we need to stand united about these simple public health measures. This is not a political issue. This is not a partisan issue. This is an urgent public health issue in Pennsylvania,” she said.
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