Is it safe to head back into a casino? That’s a question that Mississippi casino operators are set to answer this week when they reopen their businesses for the first time since the COVID-19 lockdown began. Operators in the southern state got the OK from the Mississippi Gaming Commission (MGC) to resume operations on Friday, May 21, albeit with multiple restrictions.

Players looking for that tried-and-true casino will find that Mississippi gambling operations will be anything but normal in the post-lockdown era. For starters, casinos will be limited to 50 percent of their standard occupancies (which by default means operators will only be able to earn 50 percent of their pre-lockdown earnings). Before they even walk through the door, players will be required to fill out a health questionnaire. Those who self-report symptoms of COVID-19 will be barred from entry (the flaws in self-reporting are definitely self-evident after a few moments of thought).

Once inside, players will be asked, though not required, to wear face masks. All players will be required to practice social distancing which includes staying six feet away from other players.

For table games, social distancing means that only three players can be on each side of the craps table and that every other chair will remain empty. That same social distancing rule applies to slot machines where players will be at least one machine apart from their next door neighbors. Roulette wheels will be cleaned with each shift change and players will be given disinfectant wipes to keep playing cards clean.

Whether players will react positively in the notoriously cantankerous Southern state remains an unanswered question, as does the question of whether any consumer group is ready to head back into crowded public places, remains unaswered.


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