Posted on: December 23, 2020, 09:46h.
Last updated on: December 23, 2020, 10:12h.
Rivers Casino Philadelphia will remain closed on city orders through at least January 15, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the City of Brotherly Love.
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health says the casino, as well as indoor dining, gatherings, and events, have been determined to be “high risk” environments for COVID-19 transmission. Indoor sports, aside from Philadelphia’s professional sports teams, are prohibited, as is all in-person education.
The restrictions on the aforementioned events were set to expire January 1. The city is extending the directives another 15 days.
Based on the data and the spikes following the holidays, we believe it’s too risky to end all of our current restrictions,” explained Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “We need to get past that spike before it’s safe to back off.”
Rivers Philly has been closed since November 20. The 12 other land-based commercial casinos in Pennsylvania were forced to again suspend operations effective December 12 on Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) statewide order. They will remain closed until at least January 4.
Casinos on Defense
In anticipation of Wolf’s second round of mandatory closures on various businesses, the state’s commercial gaming industry jointly wrote the governor, asking for him to exempt casinos. They pleaded with the second-term government to consider data that they claim shows casinos have not aided in COVID-19 spread.
“Our industry has demonstrated a willingness to work cooperatively with the Administration and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to take extraordinary — and absolutely necessary — measures to stem the spread of this virus and keep our employees and customers safe,” the letter declared. “Collectively, we have invested tens of millions of dollars to install every safeguard imaginable.
Both the PGCB and the Pennsylvania State Police maintain a near-continuous presence in every casino in this state, a level of oversight that is simply not matched in any other business or industry in the Commonwealth,” the plea continued. “Importantly, the record shows that these measures have proven effective.”
The PGCB reported last month that since the state’s casinos began reopening in early June, 108 workers tested positive for the coronavirus. Rivers Philadelphia had 11 of its casino workers contract COVID-19.
Pennsylvania’s land-based casinos employ more than 18,000 people, but ongoing closures threaten that number. While Wind Creek Bethlehem has pledged to continue paying its 1,600 workers during the three-week mandatory shutdown, other casinos are warning state officials that additional furloughs or permanent firings could be coming.
Since October, several casinos have submitted WARN (Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification) filings with the state. Such notices are required when a company is considering mass layoffs.
Hollywood Casino at Penn National filed a WARN report in October, advising the state that 18 jobs were being permanently eliminated because of COVID-19. This month, Presque Isle Downs & Casino said in a WARN notice that 434 workers are being furloughed during the state’s three-week shutdown of casino businesses. The number includes 134 employees who have been on furlough since March 25.