New Safety Measures, Long Lines Greet Gamblers At Indiana Casinos

Casinos in Indiana have finally reopened.

The state’s casinos started taking bets on Monday, June 15, for the first time in three months.

When the COVID-19 pandemic caused casinos to close in March, online sportsbooks in Indiana became the only income source for the state’s gambling industry. However, with the major sports leagues not operating, sports betting has not been performing at peak levels.

The reopening of casinos signifies the industry’s beginning of recovery. Many Hoosiers attended the first day of operation, though some Indiana casinos found it challenging to manage the influx of visitors.

Lines at Horseshoe Hammond in the early morning

Casinos in the state reopened on Monday at 6 a.m.

The bottled-up anticipation was clear as an hour prior to the opening of Horseshoe Hammond, there were already people queuing outside. By the time it was 5:30 a.m., a queue of cars had formed around the entire building. A number of the state’s major casinos were experiencing similar circumstances.

Horseshoe, being close to Chicago, is typically the state’s most frequented retail casino. As Illinois casinos are closed indefinitely, it is likely that Horseshoe Hammond will attract a higher number of bettors from other states than usual.

While this is beneficial for the casino’s revenue, managing the increased demand can be challenging. There are still some issues that need to be resolved before casinos can run seamlessly.

Reopening struggles

Indiana casinos struggled to manage the queues of guests due to the many new safety measures implemented. The new coronavirus prevention measures have prolonged the usual time taken to enter a casino.

Usually, Indiana casinos would allow entry to anyone who looks to be at least 30 years old. Now, however, all guests are required to have their ID checked.

Furthermore, each gambler is required to have their temperature checked and answer a series of screening questions before entry. To cap it all, casinos are permitted to operate at just 50% capacity.

These factors significantly lengthened wait times, leading some gamblers to abandon the lines. While not all casinos in Indiana experienced such high foot traffic, the longer wait times certainly posed a problem for some of the state’s larger establishments.

As the weeks progress, casinos will adapt to the new safety guidelines, potentially resulting in decreased wait times as things become more streamlined.

Horseshoe and Majestic Star distribute safety equipment.

The Indiana Gaming Commission mandates all casinos to adhere to a set of basic safety requirements. Nonetheless, some Indiana casinos are going above and beyond with additional COVID-19 safety measures.

For instance, only those gamblers who play table games are required to wear masks. However, some casinos, such as Horseshoe Hammond, provide masks to all guests. A significant number of gamblers chose to wear them since they were available at no cost.

The Majestic Star Casino in Gary is offering free “Care Kits” to every gambler. These kits contain hand sanitizer, masks, and latex finger coverings.

Blue Chip and Hollywood Casino advocate for social distancing.

Most casinos carried out temperature screenings using devices that made contact with each visitor’s forehead or wrists.

Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City took additional steps to limit contamination from touching every guest. They installed special thermal imaging cameras capable of taking a person's temperature from a distance.

Blue Chip has also implemented Plexiglas barriers throughout the establishment to aid in maintaining social distancing among gamblers. Despite regulations in other states mandating barriers in all casinos, Indiana has not imposed such a requirement.

Hand sanitizer stations and extra social distancing signs have been installed throughout the Hollywood Casino building in Lawrenceburg.

The general manager of the casino, Mike Galle, stated that social distancing plays a significant role in the reopening plans of Hollywood Lawrenceburg.

Once they reach the gaming floor, slot machines are distanced around six feet from each other. Previously, my table games were spaced about four feet apart, but now, in many areas, they are six feet apart. Currently, the food offerings are limited.

While each casino has a slightly unique approach to safety, most of them across the state are putting in efforts beyond the basic requirements to ensure the protection of their guests.

Every casino in Indiana will implement the new safety precautions until July 4, unless they choose to extend this period.

Make sure to visit every casino’s website to get information on the safety measures they are implementing.

Jake Garza Avatar
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Jake Garza

Jake Garza currently serves as a US Gambling Industry Analyst for Catena Media, specializing in Midwest sports betting and casino content. Before venturing into the legal gambling industry, he was a professional sports writer covering teams like the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, and Indiana Pacers. He now holds the position of Managing Editor for Play Indiana and PlayOhio, having previously worked with notable brands such as PlayIllinois and PlayMichigan. Since 2019, Garza has been reporting on the gambling industry, working alongside a team of journalists to provide extensive coverage of the legal U.S. gambling sector.

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