One Percent of Pennsylvania Casino Workers Have Contracted COVID-19

Posted on: November 10, 2020, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: November 10, 2020, 04:46h.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) says approximately one percent of workers employed at the state’s 12 brick-and-mortar casinos have contracted COVID-19 since the venues began reopening in early June.

Pennsylvania casino workers COVID-19
Pennsylvania casino workers, like this table games dealer at Wind Creek Bethlehem, have been staying safe from the coronavirus since returning to work in June. (Image: The Morning Call)

The state gaming regulatory reports that only 108 casino workers have tested COVID-19 positive since Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) allowed the gaming venues to recommence operations.

Rivers Pittsburgh has the most infections with 28, and Parx outside Philadelphia is next at 25.

  • Casino — Employee COVID-19 Cases
  1. Rivers Pittsburgh — 28
  2. Parx — 25
  3. Rivers Philadelphia — 11
  4. Mohegan Sun Pocono — 9
  5. Harrah’s Philadelphia — 8
  6. Valley Forge — 7
  7. Presque Isle — 6
  8. Meadows — 4
  9. Mount Airy — 2
  10. Hollywood Penn National — 2
  11. Lady Luck Nemacolin — 1

Pennsylvania has confirmed 225,150 positive coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, and has cited the disease for 9,086 deaths. The number of daily new COVID-19 cases has surged in recent weeks. In November, the state has routinely eclipsed more than 3,000 additional coronavirus cases per 24 hours.

Casino Precautions Working

Opponents to allowing casinos to reopen across the country amid a pandemic claimed the indoor establishments could be breeding grounds for the respiratory disease. They pointed to the fact that people gather around slot machines and table games, many smoke, and they consume beverages on the floor that requires them to lower their masks.

Indoor smoking in Pennsylvania remains prohibited at casinos, and precautions designed to stop COVID-19 spread via casino floors appears to be effective.

Pennsylvania casinos continue to be limited to 50 percent capacity, slot machines must be reconfigured to adhere to social distancing protocols, and table game seating is reduced, with positions separated by plexiglass dividers.

We currently have more than 1,900 people working at Parx,” said Carrie Nork Minelli, communications director at Parx, to the Bucks County Courier Times. “Over a four-month period, our positive case rate is approximately 1.3 percent, which we believe is below the state and Bucks County average.”

Rivers Pittsburgh said despite the COVID-19 tally count in casino employee coronavirus cases, its 1,360 workers have been kept safe.

“We’re extremely grateful to Rivers Casino Team Members in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for their relentless dedication to maintaining a safe and healthy workplace,” explained Rivers spokesman Jack Horner. “Despite operating in the two Pennsylvania counties with the highest population densities, cases among Rivers Casino Team Members remain low.”

Jobs Lost

COVID-19 has cost thousands of jobs in the Pennsylvania gaming industry.

According to the PGCB’s 2019-20 Gaming Diversity Report, the 12 land-based casinos employed 9,883 workers at the end of June 2020. That’s a 40.8 percent reduction — or 6,834 jobs — compared with the end of June of 2019.

Some of those jobs have since returned, as Pennsylvania casinos are performing better than expected since reopening over the summer.

The industry reported gross gaming revenue (GGR) year-over-year increases in July, August, and September. However, that was only due to land-based losses being offset by an increase in internet gaming, mobile sports betting, and the expansion of video gaming terminals into certain diesel truck stops.