Three Pennsylvania Casinos Could Reopen June 5, Wind Creek Bethlehem Furloughs 2,100 Workers

Posted on: June 1, 2020, 08:16h. 

Last updated on: June 1, 2020, 11:14h.

Three Pennsylvania casinos are in counties that are scheduled to enter the “green phase” of the state’s reopening plan on Friday, June 5.

Pennsylvania casinos Rivers Pittsburgh
Rivers Pittsburgh is one of three Pennsylvania casinos that could be soon given the greenlight to reopen. (Image: NPR)

Pennsylvania’s 12 brick-and-mortar casinos have been shuttered since March 16. As the Keystone State continues to slowly reopen after two and a half months, three gaming floors could be turning back on their slot machines and table games as early as Friday.

Rivers Casino Pittsburgh, Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin, and The Meadows Casino Racetrack Hotel are located in three counties, respectively Allegheny, Fayette, and Washington, that are to enter the green phase on Friday. Governor Tom Wolf (D) announced last Friday they are moving to green, along with 13 other counties.

In the green phase, casinos are permitted to reopen at a maximum 50 percent capacity. Each casino must also gain approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) that validates the facility has implemented the various health safety guidelines that the gaming regulatory released May 19.

Closures Leads to Furloughs

Wind Creek Bethlehem announced recently that the property is furloughing 84 percent of its staff. Some 2,100 employees became eligible to file and receive state unemployment benefits effective today. They can also apply to receive the federal $600 a week unemployment stimulus payment.

Wind Creek, owned and operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Alabama, says workers will continue to receive their health benefits during their furloughing. “They remain employed and that’s been critical to us,” Wind Creek Bethlehem President Jay Dorris told Lehigh Valley Live.

The Native American tribe acquired the commercial casino from Las Vegas Sands for $1.3 billion in May of 2019. Sands has continued to pay its workers in Las Vegas, Singapore, and Macau during the mandatory closures of its casinos.

The Bethlehem casino resort resides in Northampton County, which remains in the stay-at-home red phase. Northampton is expected to enter yellow on Friday.

A county must remain in the yellow phase for two weeks. “If overall risk remains mitigated for 14 days, we will transition the county to the green phase,” Governor Wolf’s Process to Reopen Pennsylvania guideline explains.

Joining Northampton in the yellow phase effective Friday is Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. They are home to Parx Casino, Harrah’s Philadelphia, Valley Forge Casino Resort, and Rivers Casino Philadelphia.

Assuming the 14-day yellow phase is mitigated as needed, the earliest those casinos – and Wind Creek – could theoretically reopen would be June 19.

Four Others

The remaining casinos not discussed are Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course (Dauphin County), Presque Isle Downs & Casino (Erie), Mohegan Sun Pocono (Luzerne), and Mount Airy Casino Resort (Monroe).

All four of those counties have already entered the yellow phase. Dauphin, Luzerne, and Monroe entered the yellow phase on May 29.

Erie entered the yellow phase on May 8. However, the county is staying there after coronavirus cases continued to rise during the two-week interval, and state officials deemed it was not ready to go green.