In a step toward normalcy, casinos across Ohio have resumed 24-hour gaming.
The move, allowed by government officials during a sustained statewide drop in COVID-19 cases, is a relief for casinos whose finances have been strained by pandemic restrictions.
The hope now is that such regularity can continue moving forward.
For now, curfew on Ohio casinos a thing of the past
Last week, Gov. Mike DeWine lifted the state’s three-month-old curfew after COVID cases hit a pre-determined point.
The curfew was established in mid-November, initially requiring businesses to close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. A recent adjustment pushed closures to start at 11 p.m.
DeWine had long said he would lift the curfew if COVID hospitalizations fell below 2,500 for seven straight days.
Last week, that happened. And the curfew was gone.
Notably, DeWine told media he could reinstate the curfew if COVID trends reverse course. While such an occurrence is unlikely, as vaccinations and testings continue to increase, the virus has proven itself anything but predictable.
Ohio casinos ‘enthusiastic’ to again be offering 24-hour gaming
Right now, casinos are happy to have their late-night and early-morning hours restored.
Prominent casinos to announce moves back to 24-hour operations include:
- Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati
- Belterra Park
- JACK Cleveland Casino
- JACK Thistledown Racino
- Hollywood Casinos
- MGM Northfield Park
“With the return to 24 hours of operation at MGM Northfield Park, it feels like we’re getting a step closer to a level of normalcy,” MGM Resorts Midwest Group President David Tsai said in a statement. “We’re excited to expand our hours of operation and welcome more of our team members back to work.”
Tsai said the casino “will continue to be vigilant with our health and safety protocols.”
Mark Dunkerson, CEO of JACK Entertainment, said in a press release that his company remains “committed to delivering a safe and comfortable environment for our guests and team members to enjoy.”
“We are enthusiastic to once again offer non-stop gaming entertainment and excited that it coincides with the opening of 3,000 square-feet of brand new gaming space at JACK Thistledown Racino, as well as our continued offerings of the newest slots and live table games at JACK Cleveland Casino.”
Health protocols still a prominent part of casino life
Like other properties across the country, Ohio casinos continue to take precautionary measures to help curb COVID positives.
Miami Valley Gaming, for example, is open 24 hours on the weekend but closes from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. each weekday to allow for deep cleaning. Masks, not just face shields, must be worn at all times. And anyone who enters the property is subject to thermal scanning.
Some casinos have even made an effort to limit exposure for people considered high-risk.
Hollywood Casino Columbus offers special visitation hours between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. each day for those in high-risk categories, which typically target age and health conditions.
Like at other casinos, live music and entertainment remain suspended in Columbus. Gaming floors operate at 50% of maximum occupancy. Properties have turned off certain slot machines to maintain social distancing. And poker rooms remain closed. So while casinos can once again offer around-the-clock services, things remain far from normal.
After offering his condolences to those affected by the virus, George Goldhoff, president of Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati, emphasized the casino’s efforts to keep its customers safe.
“We want to do our part to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and appreciate the healthcare workers, first responders, local communities, and governments dedicated to serving others.”