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Expect Indiana Casinos To Stay Open, New Restrictions In Place

With surging coronavirus cases across the country, the Indiana Gaming Commission has instituted new safety protocols to keep Indiana casinos open.

Indiana casinos continue to juggle the effects of the coronavirus.

The Indiana Gaming Commission has instituted additional, increased restrictions based in part on each county’s ability to control the virus.

Unfortunately, Indiana’s most gaming-heavy areas have been hit the hardest.

But casinos have one advantage: they were already told to close – and it’s unlikely to happen again.

Enhanced restrictions limit capacity, food in Indiana casinos

Indiana has shifted away from the “Back on Track” plan that previously guided casino reopenings.

The IGC utilized that plan when setting rules – including mask-wearing requirements and occupancy limits.

Now, however, the state has shifted to a county-by-county method. Casinos are now impacted by the rate of COVID-19 spread in their respective counties.

The Indiana State Department of Health is color-coding each county with either blue, yellow, orange, or red on a weekly basis. Orange (bad) and red (very bad) indicate worrisome trends being monitored by the ISDH.

Casinos have now filed Orange and Red Zone Amendments to their original reopening plans, as required by the gaming commission.

The amendments include numerous new restrictions:

  • Casinos now must have a segregated area for socially distanced eating, drinking, and smoking, instead of allowing unmasked consumption on the floor.
  • All areas outside the segregated section must include mask-wearing at all times.
  • Local health departments must approve casino plans and amendments.
  • Any casino in a “red” county will decrease capacity by 15% from its existing 50% limit.

Unfortunately, 91 of Indiana’s 92 counties are currently classified as either orange or red.

Lake County, which houses multiple casinos, including Horseshoe Hammond, has been hit especially hard.

Even if a county improves to blue or yellow, it must continue with the new restrictions for at least two weeks before rolling them back.

A return to orange or yellow requires implementing additional restrictions within 24 hours.

Local governments can impose even more restrictive measures.

Could casinos see closure repeats?

Gov. Eric Holcomb has taken steps in recent weeks to emphasize the health risks posed by COVID-19 and the safety measures he wants each Hoosier to embrace.

On Tuesday, for instance, Holcomb announced his decision to extend Indiana’s public health emergency through the remainder of 2020.

The emergency was first declared in March; he has since extended it nine times:

“Despite significant steps being taken in our state, the virus remains a threat to the health, safety and welfare of all residents of Indiana such that emergency conditions continue to exist, and efforts are needed to continue to address, control and reduce the threat posed by COVID-19.”

Holcomb has taken a strong tone regarding the virus. Other states, like Illinois, have already decided to implement public shutdowns, including casinos.

Still, the likelihood of Holcomb again ordering widespread closures is slim.

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