Pennsylvania Casinos Ordered to Close as New Virus Cases Spiral Higher

Pennsylvania’s 13 casinos are bracing for another statewide closure under an order issued by Governor Tom Wolf this past Thursday.

The gambling venues along with theaters, movie theaters, concert venues, arcades, private clubs, bowling alleys, and other entertainment businesses around the Keystone State will all have to cease operations as of 12:01 am on Saturday, December 12. The shutdown is set to end in three weeks at 8 am on Monday, January 4.

Gov. Wolf’s order came as new Covid-19 cases are on the rise in Pennsylvania and as part of the state’s effort to curb the spread of the highly contagious virus.

Pennsylvania’s top official confirmed the closure of all of the state’s casinos after earlier this week, nine gaming executives representing casinos around the Keystone State sent a letter to Gov. Wolf asking him to reconsider the shutdown.

The letter noted that Pennsylvania’s gaming industry is “one of the largest and most successful” in the Commonwealth as it generates more than $1.5 billion in tax revenues a year.

Casino Closures Not Feasible

The letter went on that “logistically, it is not feasible that we close our casinos’ doors within a few days’ notice” since a casino “is a massive business enterprise, and we are required to secure thousands of individual gaming devices; and move substantial sums of cash off-premises among other challenges.”

Casino executives further told Gov. Wolf that locally licensed gambling companies have invested tens of millions of dollars to “install every safeguard imaginable” and make sure their properties provide services in accordance with all safety protocols issued by health officials.

The letter pointed out that there is no evidence casinos are a source of coronavirus spread and that their closure would ignore their investments and commitment to strictly enforcing all protocols.

Gov. Wolf impacts Pennsylvania’s 13 casinos, including its most recently launched one, Live! Casino Pittsburgh. The $150 million property opened doors last month as the state’s first mini-casino under a gambling expansion initiative that Gov. Wolf rubber-stamped in the fall of 2017.

Live! Casino Pittsburgh is located at the former Bon-Ton department store at Westmoreland Mall in Westmoreland County, just about 30 miles from Pittsburgh. It features 750 slot machines and 30 table games.

Pennsylvania’s casinos stayed shut for months after they were ordered to close this past March when the first Covid-19 wave hit. The gambling venues began reopening gradually in June. Under Gov. Wolf’s three-phase reopening plan, casinos and other businesses that were forced to close in the spring were only permitted to resume operations after their host counties moved into the green phase.

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