Gov. says announcement on casinos coming “sooner rather than later”

Casinos in Louisiana will be allowed to open their doors on Monday, and the reopening of Mississippi’s casinos may not be far behind.

Casinos in the Magnolia State have been closed since mid-March, but during his Tuesday press briefing, Governor Tate Reeves reiterated that they remain on track for a Memorial Day reopening. 

“We are very near finalizing guidelines for our casino industry so they can get back open,” he said. “We have always focused on Memorial Day weekend as a time for them to do so in a safe, responsible way. It’s not going to look exactly like it looked several months ago when the Gaming Commission shut down our casinos, but I do believe that you will see an announcement from us sooner rather than later that does in fact allow those businesses to reopen.”

Last week, the Governor discussed some potential changes that could be made to ensure safety at the state’s casinos. He stated that the large floor areas in casinos could allow for social distancing guidelines to be easily implemented, and that table games may not open right away as the passing of cards could potentially spread the virus. Another solution offered by the Governor was opening every other slot machine to allow for distance between patrons. 

LuAnn Pappas, CEO of the Scarlet Pearl Casino in D’Iberville, recently stated that they’ve already been working to ensure that they can reopen safely when the time comes. 

“We have been working towards a reopening,” Pappas said. “We have actually in-house built the dividers for all the slot machines—the plexiglass dividers for the social distancing—as well as we have built them for table games to protect the dealer and the customer.”

She also explained that table capacity will be cut down to two or three people, and all casino visitors will be required to wear gloves and masks.

The importance of Mississippi’s gaming industry is evidenced by a 2017 report from the Mississippi Gaming & Hospitality Association, which states that gaming accounts for nearly $3 billion of state revenue annually.