Ohio casinos are seeing reduced pedestrian traffic after Governor Mike DeWine announced a three-week retail curfew starting Thursday.
The curfew announced on Tuesday obliges individuals within the state to avoid retail stores between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. The reduced working hours are intended to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus and prevent the state hospitals from overflowing.
“We believe that we can honestly achieve a lot more with this curfew than by closing one or two businesses,” said the governor.
Ohio joins a growing number of states that have scaled back casino operations as US case numbers continue to rise.
Operator based in Las Vegas
Unlike restrictions in other states, the Ohio curfew is imposed on individuals, not companies, according to Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the DeWine bureau. The order doesn’t ask companies to close, but Tierney said the state doesn’t expect customers to visit casinos between 10 p.m. and 5 p.m. while the curfew is in place.
“The order doesn’t close a store, although we understand some stores may change their opening hours due to the curfew,” he said.
MGM Resorts International’s MGM Northfield Park, based in Las Vegas, which is located outside of Cleveland, does just that. A company spokesman said the casino will adjust its opening hours to 8am to 10pm for at least three weeks starting Thursday.
“We pledge to follow health and safety practices to protect us all,” the spokesman said.
A spokesman for Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming Corp., which operates Belterra Park in Cincinnati, didn’t respond to a request for comment. Penn National Gaming Inc., a Pennsylvania-based company that operates four Ohio properties in addition to Tropicana and M Resort in Nevada, also did not respond to a request for comment.
The Ohio curfew comes after the eleven casinos reported a surge in gaming revenue in October. Total casino revenue for the month was $ 74.8 million, up nearly 10 percent year over year, according to the state gambling commission.
But as casino revenue rose again after closings, the number of COVID-19 infections has also rebounded. The seven-day moving average of daily new cases in Ohio increased from 3,097 per day on November 2nd to 7,199 on Monday. Hospital and intensive admissions for the coronavirus are at record levels. More than 3,600 patients had been hospitalized as of Tuesday.
DeWine said the curfew and increased use of masks could help reduce human contact by up to 25 percent.
“We know that if we reduce the number of people we come into daily contact with, we reduce the chance of getting the virus and we decrease the chance of getting the virus if you unknowingly have it,” said the Republican governor.
Casinos are closing – again
The Ohio curfew is following a trend seen in gaming markets across the country. Some properties are facing curfews while others have been ordered to close completely.
New Jersey casinos are now on curfew, and Massachusetts has ordered the three casinos to close at 9:30 p.m. every night
On Wednesday, Illinois became the third state to order its casinos to temporarily close again starting Thursday. Michigan casinos will close for a minimum of three weeks beginning Wednesday. The 24 tribal casinos in New Mexico have also closed. Starting Friday, the only casino in the city of Philadelphia, the Rivers Casino Philadelphia, will close its doors through January 1st.
According to the American Gaming Association’s online casino tracker, 97 out of 994 tribal and commercial casinos across the country have been temporarily closed as of Wednesday.
It is unclear how rising case numbers will affect the operation of the Las Vegas casino. Last week, Nevada governor Steve Sisolak warned that the state could take “further action” if the number of cases doesn’t improve within two weeks. The “Stay at Home 2.0” period ends on November 24th.
MGM Resorts shares were trading at $ 27.16 on Tuesday morning, up 2.8 percent on the New York Stock Exchange. Boyd shares were trading at $ 36.23, up 1.4 percent on the New York Stock Exchange. Penn National stock was trading at $ 68.05, up 4 percent on the Nasdaq.
Contact Bailey Schulz at [email protected]. consequences @bailey_schulz on twitter. The Associated Press contributed to this report.