Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf has ordered the closure of various businesses including casinos in an effort to slow down the out-of-control spread of the coronavirus in the Keystone state.
The closure is set to take effect on Saturday, December 12, 2020, at 12:01 a.m. and will end on January 4, 2021, at 8:00 a.m. The orders are the most drastic since Wolf shut down all non-essential businesses last March at the onset of the pandemic. Aside from casinos, the order also covers indoor restaurant dining, sports activities, gyms, museums, bowling alleys, theaters and other entertainments venues. Likewise, all businesses serving the public will be limited to 50% capacity only.
In a statement, Wolf said:
“With these measures in place, we hope to accomplish three goals. First, stop the devastating spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth. Second, keep our hospitals and healthcare workers from becoming overwhelmed. And third, help Pennsylvanians get through the holiday season — and closer to a widely available vaccine — as safely as possible.”
As in the case with many other states in the U.S., Pennsylvania is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases. With its shutdown, Pennsylvania becomes the third state to declare full casino shutdown. Last November 18, Michigan closed all casinos in a move that was first said to be good for three months but now has been changed to indefinitely. Two days after the Wolverine state, Illinois also declared an indefinite shutdown.
One of the fears in Pennsylvania is that the hospitals and health care workers could get overwhelmed. As of Thursday noon,there were a total of 5,877 people hospitalized with COVID-19, the most since the pandemic started. Gov. Wolf is hoping that the three-week shutdown of will slow down the numbers.
Pennsylvania Gaming Was Doing Well
Pennsylvania gaming were doing well despite the earlier restrictions. During the third quarter of 2020, the gross gaming revenue (GGR) from land-based casinos, online casinos, and brick-and-mortar sports betting shops totaled $891.3M which is 3% more than the July-September 2019 figures. Requiring them to shut down again will affect whatever gains they had.
There are a total of 12 Pennsylvania casinos and racinos with a total gaming revenue of $3.38B in 2019. The Philadelphia gaming market ranked 7th among the United States gaming industry’s top markets, per the American Gaming Association’s 2019 State of the States report. Rivers Casino, the only casino within the Philadelphia limits, has been closed since November 20. With the governor’s new orders, the other Philadelphia area casinos including Parx and Harrah’s Philadelphia will now be closed as well.