NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Steady crowds showed up on the Gulf Coast today, as the state of Mississippi gave the green light to open a dozen casinoes after COVID-19 shut them down nine weeks ago. Gamblers were greeted by some new operating rules, that made things a little tricky.
If the first-day crowd is any indication, gamblers were ready for the state of Mississippi to reopen its Gulf Coast Casinos.
“By the time we open the doors in the first group came in we had 300 people,” Silver Slipper general manager John Ferrucci said.
Gamblers returned to card tables and slot machines on this first day, happy to be out doing just about anything.
“Because I got tired of being quarantined out,” gambler Janet Griffith said.
Though the sound of slot machines has a familiar ring, for casino goers there is much that’s not familiar at Mississippi casinos under new COVID-19 operating rules.
“If their temperature is high we tell them they can’t come in and come back with the temperature is down,” Ferrucci said.
Gamblers are thoroughly checked out before they enter and must answer questions concerning their health.
“You’ll see people wherever you go to enforce social distancing and make sure no one is congregating,” Ferrucci said.
Casino workers frequently spray down slot machines in areas where every other slot is shut down to maintain social distance and gamblers like Janet Griffith appreciate the effort since COVID has struck her family.
“Everybody was fine but I have a brother in Angola and he’s isolated right now,” Griffith said.
Though there is much disinfectant spraying taking place, ensuring cards and chips are virus-free is another story.
“As far as the chips go we encourage all of our table game players to wear gloves when we have those available for them,” Ferrucci said.
This casino prides itself and having one of the best birthdays on the gulf coast but if you think you’re just gonna come in here and dig into whatever you want you better think again.
Diners are not allowed to handle serving spoons, that’s left up to the restaurant staff
“Our buffet is one of the things we’re famous for and our guests don’t touch the utensils,” Ferrucci said.
The workers are happy to be back, but some remain fearful about catching a virus That’s claimed tens of thousands of American lives.
“Yes I was very apprehensive but now that I’ve seen the protection concerned about her safety I feel better,” card dealer Tina Blathery said.
But most need to work and press on with a smile behind the mask.
Gulf Coast Casino operators say this has been one of the longest shutdowns they have ever dealt with. Normally when they close for hurricanes or tropical storms they reopen in a few days. But this shut down lasted almost 2 1/2 months.