As the global spread of the coronavirus pandemic continues to accelerate, US casino establishments are continuing to ramp up safety measures as professional sports across the country begin suspensions.
Bill Miller, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, addressed the “uncertainty for the gaming industry and economy broadly” in a recent message to members, issuing assurance that communication with administration (CDC, office of the vice president) and congressional leaders is ongoing.
“We are also communicating back to policymakers the steps that our members are taking to ensure employee and customer health and safety,” Miller commented. “We convened a call yesterday with more than 50 government relations representatives from AGA’s membership to gauge priorities in any stimulus action, and we will work diligently to preserve industry interests over the coming weeks and months.
“We have engaged and will continue to engage other industry associations as the implications of this evolving health crisis continue to affect our part of the broader hospitality industry.”
After closing seven of its buffet offerings along the Las Vegas Strip earlier in the week, MGM Resorts International has confirmed a case involving a guest at The Mirage. With deep cleaning and sanitisation underway, the company is coordinating with the Southern Nevada Health District to notify guests and employees who may have had close prolonged contact with the individual.
The company said in a statement: “We were informed that an individual from New York who was a guest at The Mirage and an attendee of the Women of Power Summit from March 5-8 has tested positive for coronavirus. Upon learning of the individual’s symptoms, Mirage staff worked in coordination with the state health district to implement MGM Resorts’ health and safety protocol.”
Connecticut’s Foxwoods Resort Casino has implemented additional health and safety methods for all of its guests and team members, including the addition of over 330 hand sanitising stations and sanitising wipes located throughout the complex and creation of a core cleaning team dedicated to increasing the frequency of disinfecting slot machines, door handles, table games, escalator rails, table tops, chairs and other high-volume touch points.
“We take the health and safety of our guests and team members seriously. We have taken proactive, prevention steps in face of the COVID-19 threat,” stated Dr Setu Vora, chief medical officer of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.
Monarch Casino and Resort also issued the following statement when publishing its financial report this week: “With respect to COVID-19, Monarch’s first quarter results had not been impacted through early March though this has changed over the past several days.
“At this time, our priorities are the health and safety of both our guests and team members and we have taken prudent precautions throughout our facilities and work spaces. We continue to monitor the situation and are prepared to quickly make operational changes should they be required.”
Furthermore, US professional sports have been responding to the spread of the virus, with the NBA choosing to suspend the current season after one of its players tested positive for COVID-19.
The Utah Jazz player preliminary tested positive for the virus shortly prior to the tip-off of Wednesday’s game between the franchise and Oklahoma City Thunder.
The association stated: “The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of Wednesday’s schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
This decision also prompted the NHL to release the following statement: “The National Hockey League is aware of the NBA’s decision tonight to indefinitely suspend its season due to a player testing positive for the coronavirus. The NHL is continuing to consult with medical experts and is evaluating the options.”
Doubt has also been cast over college basketball’s highly anticipated March Madness, with the NCAA stressing that it continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 alongside health officials.
As it begins to looks increasingly likely that the competition could proceed behind closed doors, Mark Emmert, NCAA president, stated: “Based on their advice and my discussions with the NCAA board of governors, I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance.
“While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States. This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes.”
Major League Soccer has also been hit by the pandemic, with two games postponed due to a Santa Clara County legal order banning all gatherings of 1,000 people or more and Washington State‘s restriction on gatherings of more than 250 people in King County. As a result, home games for the Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes scheduled for the weekend of March 20-22 will now not take place.