Mississippi Lifting All Restrictions on Casinos, Including Face Masks

Posted on: April 29, 2021, 12:58h. 

Last updated on: July 19, 2021, 03:00h.

Mississippi casinos will no longer be subject to any state-ordered COVID-19 operating restrictions beginning tomorrow. The restrictions lift at 5 pm CST on April 30.

Mississippi casinos COVID-19 restrictions
A slot machine player gambles at the WaterView Casino and Hotel in Vicksburg. Beginning tomorrow, casinos in Mississippi will be able to operate free of COVID-19 mandates. (Image: AP)

The Mississippi Gaming Commission (MGC) announced today that the 26 commercial casinos will be allowed to operate at 100 percent capacity. Face masks will no longer be required for employees or guests.

Casinos in Mississippi have been operating at a maximum of 75 percent of their fire code since March 4. Patrons and casino workers have been required to wear face coverings, and slot machines and gaming tables were mandated to undergo cleaning at least once every two hours. 

While many other states required indoor smoking to be prohibited during the pandemic, that wasn’t the case in Mississippi. When the casinos were allowed to operate, guests could light up a cigarette or vape while gambling. 

Only one commercial casino in Mississippi — Island View Casino Resort in Gulfport — has gone smoke-free voluntarily. 

Cleaning Protocols to Remain

Casino operators told the Sun Herald that while COVID-19 regulations are being lifted, the sanitization schedules implemented amid the pandemic will stay in place.

Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta said recently that business in his casinos is unexpectedly good. He said his resorts are experiencing record numbers, the billionaire citing a substantial pent-up demand for people getting out and finding enjoyment and entertainment after more than a year largely confined to their homes.

Mississippi casinos have been open since May 21, 2020. They were forced to shutter on state orders in March of 2020, soon after the first positive COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the state. 

At the end of last month, Mississippi’s 26 commercial casinos collectively offered 20,210 slot machines and 703 table games. All 26 casinos additionally operate sports betting. 

Casino’s gross gaming revenue in 2020 totaled $1.79 billion last year. That was a nearly 19 percent drop — or $410 million — from the state gaming industry’s 2019 win of $2.2 billion. 

Vaccine Rollout

According to the latest state health data, only 23.2 percent of adults in Mississippi are fully vaccinated. That ranks third to last in the nation. Only Utah and Alabama have fewer residents receiving both doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson. 

Maine leads the way in the vaccine race, with 38 percent of the state’s adults fully vaccinated. Connecticut is a close second at 37.2 percent, and Vermont third at 36.3 percent.