29 Apr 2020 Patrick

Masks. Screens. Extra Space. More Cleaning. No Chips. The Future of Casinos in Goa?

Half-empty casinos could be the new norm after coronavirus

As countries across the world take tentative steps out of their COVID-19 lockdowns, businesses are looking at new ways to protect customers and staff as the world adjusts to a new normal.

An article from Fox in the US sets out actions casinos in the country are set to adopt to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading.

Could these methods also be employed in Goa and other legal gambling establishments in India?

Casino visitors in the US can expect to have their temperature taken before being allowed in. And there is also the possibility in time if a rapid blood prick test can identify coronavirus straightaway that players may also be required to take one.

The days of bustling casino floors will end, at least temporarily. Every second slot machine is likely to be taken out of service to give more space, and every other table could be removed.

The Hard Rock is suggesting each customer will have to stay 10-15 metres away from anyone else.

Not only will wearing face masks be mandatory, but it is also possible screens will separate staff from customers at the bars, and even plexiglass barriers between dealers and players at the tables.

A team of cleaners will be on standby every shift to continually wipe down door handles, tables, and other surfaces. One Las Vegas casino is even planning to hand out plastic sticks for people to use to press elevator buttons.

Others are planning to give hand sanitizers to guests on arrival with disposable gloves another option.

Casinos bosses are struggling with the issue of using chips, dice, and cash. It's not a casino without these, but all are easy ways for coronavirus to spread.

How these measures would work in Indian casinos is up for debate. Certainly, the offshore casinos in Goa would struggle to keep space between customers.

And the proposals floated by US casinos have to be balanced by the fact people are unlikely to want to visit casinos if the social and playing experience is so drastically different.

The river casinos of Goa have been given another six-month stay of execution recently, but there is now a real possibility they may never open in the same way again.

Matt Maddox, CEO of Wynn Casino in Las Vegas, has said his company is losing $3million a day because of the pandemic. The industry trade group in the US states gaming in the country is worth $240 billion, employing 1.7 million people in 40 states.

Governments too will be keen to see them up and running - in 2016 alone, gaming taxes contributed $8.85 billion to US state and local tax revenues.

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