Gov. DeWine Gives Ohio Casinos A Path To Reopen This Summer

Posted on June 5, 2020

Ohio casinos will be able to reopen for business in just a few weeks.

Gov. Mike DeWine has given the state’s gambling industry the green light to get things going again.

COVID-19 forced casinos around the country to shut down back in March. Ever since then, brick-and-mortar facilities have been eager to reopen their doors.

Various states around the country are working on reopening plans right now, including those in the Midwest.

Most of Michigan’s casinos are already open again, and now Ohio is joining the pack. Indiana has a timeline for reopening that’s similar to Ohio’s.

Ohio casinos can reopen on June 19

June 19 is when casinos in the Buckeye State can start taking bets again.

However, even though things will be open, the casino experience won’t exactly be back to normal.

Expect all sorts of new safety policies once things are up and running again. Gov. DeWine says that extra precautions will be the new norm around the state.

“In all of these cases, these sectors have come up with plans that reduce the number of people, provide for sanitation, and in some cases, provide one-way traffic. They are elaborate plans that we believe are consistent with protecting the public.”

Ohio has an advisory group of health experts that will decide exactly what new safety polices will look like for casinos. The group hasn’t released that new set of standards yet, but it will have to pin them down soon with casinos reopening this month.

While the state irons out the details, operators are eager to jump right back into things. Blair Bendel, the vice president of marketing for Belterra Park Cincinnati, says that the casino used the extra downtime to make some improvements.

“We spent this time focusing on really getting the property in great shape to welcome back our guests. So we’re ready for that. Property’s ready to go. We just can not wait to welcome back our guests.”

While casinos like Belterra Park await those new guidelines, we can take a glance at Indiana to see what Ohio’s new rules might look like.

Ohio’s reopening rules could mirror Indiana’s

Obviously, the most important factor of casinos reopening is keeping everyone safe.

In order to do that, the Indiana Gaming Commission created a huge batch of reopening requirements for casinos. Although nothing’s set in stone yet, Ohio will likely have some similar rules to the Hoosier State.

Indiana’s casinos will be reopening sometime between June 14 and July 4, depending on when they get approval from the Indiana Gaming Commission.

To start, there are new sanitation rules. Indiana casinos will have to disinfect dice for every new shooter, in addition to cleaning chips and electronic gaming machines every hour.

Social distancing also mixes some things up. Floors in Indiana casinos will have markings to help gamblers stay at least six feet apart from each other. Table games can only have a max of three players.

Ohio will probably have rules that echo a lot of these Indiana changes. However, one key rule that could differ between the two states is how Ohio handles masks.

In Indiana, casinos can make their own call about whether or not to force gamblers to wear masks inside. Things are a bit different for its eastern neighbor.

Ohio already has strict mask rules compared to Indiana.

Ohio residents working most jobs are already required to wear a mask at all times. In Indiana, some businesses can make that decision on their own, since the state doesn’t require masks for a lot of jobs.

So, even though it’ll go both ways in the Hoosier State, don’t be surprised if Ohio requires every worker and guest to wear a mask at all times.

Ohio doesn’t have legal sports betting yet, but that might be changing soon too. In the meantime, gamblers still have plenty to look forward to with casinos reopening.

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Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a US Gambling Industry Analyst for Catena Media. He specializes in Midwest sports betting and casino content. Prior to covering the legal gambling industry, he spent time as a professional sports writer, reporting on teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. Garza is currently working as a Managing Editor for PlayIndiana and PlayOhio, with previous stops at other well-known brands such as PlayIllinois and PlayMichigan. He has been covering the gambling industry since 2019, and currently works with a team of other journalists to provide comprehensive coverage of the legal U.S. gambling industry.

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