BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Nothing is really changing. That’s the message that casinos on the coast want to stress after the Mississippi Gaming Commission released its updated COVID-19 guidelines on Thursday.
Casinos and their patrons waited this week to see what the gaming commission would do after Gov. Reeves lifted mask mandates and restrictions on businesses.
While the new guidelines are pretty close to the ones that have been in place for months, they do allow casinos to put more playing opportunities in with additional seating at games.
”Bottom line is, nothing’s changed,” said Keith Crosby, general manager at the Palace Casino Resort. “That is the way we’re approaching it. We have added a few seats here and there where we can, where it just works. We’ve opened a couple more slot machines where it works. We’ve opened a couple more slot machines where we could. But not everything is open and we’re not going to fill all the slots where we could compromise social distancing.”
Treasure Bay Casino and Resort began putting out chairs that hadn’t seen the casino floor in months as soon as the clock hit 5 p.m. Thursday, which is when the gaming commission’s latest order went into effect.
”It really leaves it up to the operators on how we do that,” said Treasure Bay President Susan Varnes. “We really are supposed to maintain social distancing. We will keep a lot of things in place even though it’s not mandated.”
This includes limiting the number of slots they turn back on and keeping the barriers between dealers and players up at table games. The number of table game participants will go from three to four chair at both the Palace and Treasure Bay.
”One table game may only hold seven spots but were only putting four chairs back,” said Varnes. “So we’re not going all the way back, although we could possibly do that.”
The maximum number of guests allowed on the property is also increasing from 50 percent occupancy to 75 percent. However, that factor hasn’t been limiting casino turn out.
”It’s really hard to get to 50, 60 or even 70 percent occupancy,” said Crosby. “If that happens, it is rare.”
The mask requirement still remains in effect at all casino properties. To read more about the gaming commission’s latest guidelines, click here.