New Safety Measures, Long Lines Greet Gamblers At Indiana Casinos

Indiana casinos have finally reopened their doors.

Monday, June 15, was the first day that the state’s casinos took bets in three months.

When casinos shut down in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Indiana’s online sportsbooks became the state gambling industry’s sole source of income. However, since the major sports leagues have been out of commission, sports betting has hardly been reaching new heights.

With casinos open again for business, the industry will finally start to rebound. Many Hoosiers were there for the first day of action, although some Indiana casinos were struggling to handle the number of visitors.

Early morning lines at Horseshoe Hammond

The state’s casinos reopened at 6 a.m. Monday.

The pent-up excitement was apparent; an hour before Horseshoe Hammond opened its doors, it already had people waiting outside. By 5:30 a.m., a line of cars was stretched around the entire building. Many of the state’s large casinos were in similar situations.

Because of Horseshoe’s proximity to Chicago, it is routinely the most popular retail casino in the state. With casinos in Illinois shut down for the foreseeable future, Horseshoe Hammond will likely see more out-of-state bettors than usual.

Though that’s great for the casino’s handle, the extra demand can be tough to manage. There are still some kinks to smooth out before casinos can operate smoothly.

Reopening struggles

With so many new safety measures in place, Indiana casinos had a tough time keeping up with the lines of guests. With new coronavirus prevention measures in place, simply entering a casino takes longer than usual.

Normally, Indiana casinos would let anyone walk in who appears to be at least 30 years old; however, now every guest must have their ID checked.

Additionally, every gambler must undergo a temperature check and go through a screening process of questions before they could enter. On top of all that, casinos could open at only 50% capacity.

All of these factors increased wait times considerably, which caused some gamblers to leave lines. Not every Indiana casino had that level of foot traffic, but long wait times were certainly a problem at some of the state’s bigger casinos.

As the weeks go on, the casinos will adjust to the new safety guidelines, and wait times will likely decrease as casinos begin to streamline things.

Horseshoe, Majestic Star hand out safety gear

The Indiana Gaming Commission requires every casino to follow a list of minimum safety requirements. However, some Indiana casinos are going the extra mile with COVID-19 protections.

For example, only gamblers playing table games must wear masks. Despite that, some casinos, like Horseshoe Hammond, are providing masks for every guest. Many gamblers elected to wear them since they were handed out for free.

Majestic Star Casino in Gary is providing complimentary “Care Kits” for every gambler. Those kits include hand sanitizer, masks and latex finger coverings.

Blue Chip, Hollywood Casino push social distancing

Most casinos conducted temperature checks with devices that touch each visitor’s forehead or wrists.

However, Michigan City’s Blue Chip Casino took that a step further. To limit contamination from touching every guest, Blue Chip installed special thermal imaging cameras to take a person’s temperature from a distance.

Blue Chip also installed Plexiglas barriers throughout the building to help gamblers maintain social distancing. Although other states are requiring barriers at every casino, that isn’t the case in Indiana.

Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg has installed hand sanitizer stations and additional social distancing signage throughout the building.

Mike Galle, the casino’s general manager, said that social distancing has been a big part of Hollywood Lawrenceburg’s reopening plans.

“On the gaming floor, once they get there, slot machines are spaced out approximately six feet apart. My table games, they used to be about four feet apart, now they are six feet apart in a lot of different areas. The food is limited at this point in time.”

Although every casino’s approach to safety is a bit different, most casinos around the state are doing more than the bare minimum to protect their guests.

The new safety precautions will be in effect at every Indiana casino until July 4, unless each casino decides to maintain them longer.

Be sure to visit each casino’s website for details on which safety precautions it’s taking.

Jake Garza Avatar
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Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a US Gambling Industry Analyst for Catena Media. He specializes in Midwest sports betting and casino content. Prior to covering the legal gambling industry, he spent time as a professional sports writer, reporting on teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. Garza is currently working as a Managing Editor for Play Indiana and PlayOhio, with previous stops at other well-known brands such as PlayIllinois and PlayMichigan. He has been covering the gambling industry since 2019, and currently works with a team of other journalists to provide comprehensive coverage of the legal U.S. gambling industry.

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