21 casinos. 9 states. 107 days. This player’s journey of staying COVID-19 free.

21 casinos. 9 states. 107 days. This player’s journey of staying COVID-19 free.

August 20, 2020 11:00 AM

I’d like to take a gamble that I have visited more casinos in the U.S. since they re-opened post COVID-19 than anyone else.

Since attending the first major casino re-opening by Coeur D’Alene Casino in Idaho the first week of May, I have visited a total of 21 casinos across nine states. I have done so with the utmost care and precaution, while ensuring to follow all state guidelines. Having been tested numerous times, I have never held a trace of antibodies and continue to test negative as recent as a few days ago at the time of writing this article.

As a social influencer for casinos, my followers look to me for guidance and answers. So, I took it upon myself to show them what life is like now in casinos. The results varied – some casinos went above and beyond their required duties, while others fell far behind.

Brian Christopher at Coeur D’Alene Casino

The best casinos I visited implemented the following rules:

  • Went smoke-free (over 150 casinos have!) and moved the smoking section to outdoors only

  • Turned off every other slot machine

  • Temperature checks and questions about exposure at the door

  • Socially distanced tables at restaurant and closed bartop seated service

And most importantly…

  • Staff followed AND enforced the above policies

The properties who exceeded my expectations took extra steps including providing a clean pen for every guest when signing receipts (putting the dirty one to a “sanitize later” pile), wiping down the counters between each guest, taking temperature checks from peoples cars prior to entering the property and allowing patrons to press the ‘service’ button in order to get a slot machine. Some went too far in my opinion, like not providing soap or shampoo in the hotel room or making the room key expire every single day in order to have guests take a new temperature check to get the key. Of course, I’d much prefer they go too far than not far enough.

The casinos I visited that put the least effort into making a safe environment had no mask policy in place (though were eventually forced to), removed “some” amount of chairs from the gaming floor, and had zero enforcement for mask wearing or social distancing. There were even some dance floors open with zero masks worn.

In the casinos that allowed it, smoking proved to be a major issue that negated other preventative measures.

Aside from the fact the US is one of the few countries left in the world that has no nationwide restrictions on smoking indoors, being a non-smoker in a smoking casino and wearing mask was completely horrific. It also proved to me that by allowing patrons to smoke in casinos basically gave them a hall pass to walk around mask-free so long as a cigarette was in their hand.

Fast-forward over 100 days from the first reopenings and I’m sad to report that while COVID-19 cases are on the rise, many casinos have eliminated most of their original implementations. Casinos have gone from turning off every other slot machine and/or removing half of the chairs to the approach that seems to say ‘We prefer to leave all slot machines turned on and let the players decide how to social distance on their own’. The ones I talked to claimed they felt bad turning off machines that some people would specifically want to play.

My safety should not be a gamble when walking into a casino. I have visited 21 casinos with varying levels of rules in place and have managed to stay safe and healthy while enjoying casino amenities. By sticking to the guidelines of wearing a mask (triple-layered are cheap and effective), washing your hands often and not touching your face, you can help mitigate risk.

Casinos are among the most populated areas allowed open at the moment, so another wave coming could result in them being shut down again. Just this week, increasing cases in Illinois have prompted the government to enact an earlier closing time on casinos in the St. Louis-area. To ensure they remain open, casinos simply must put the health and safety of all its customers and staff first.

Brian Christopher is a top social media influencer for casinos and slot machines. He manages BCSlots.com and two channels on YouTube with a combined audience of over 300,000. He can be reached at brian@bcslots.com.