As the second wave of COVID-19 sets in, casinos in Michigan are closing their doors again. How might this impact your state?
Due to new COVID-19 restrictions being put in place by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, land-based casinos throughout the state are slated to close their doors once again.
This will obviously not impact online casinos, as they will continue to operate and players can continue to play safely from home.
Governor Whitmer explained why the state was issuing such restrictions by stating, “Right now, there are thousands of cases a day and hundreds of deaths a week in Michigan, and the number is growing. If we don’t act now, thousands more will die, and our hospitals will continue to be overwhelmed.”
Michigan currently has the sixth highest COVID cases in the US, and is now the 5th highest in deaths from the pandemic. This has caused the governor and health authorities to put in place added measures to ensure the safety of the public.
Casinos are not permitted to reopen their doors until at least December 8th. However, given the high probability of cases to rise as the cold weather sets in, that deadline will likely be extended.
In addition to casinos, these restrictions will also impact will also apply to other recreational facilities including amusement parks, arcades, bingo halls, night clubs, skating rinks and water parks throughout Michigan.
Land-based casinos in other states are bracing for impact, perhaps no state more so than Nevada. Nevada’s economy almost entirely depends on its tourist and hospitality industries.
Gov. Steve Sisolak warned last week that he will take “further action” if the number of coronavirus cases don’t drop significantly over a two-week stretch. However, he is hoping whatever actions must be taken will have little-to-no impact on the tourist and casino industries.
Financial analyst with Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, Chris Grove, put it more bluntly saying, “It is hard to imagine a world in which we don’t see more restrictive operating environments for U.S. retail casinos across the next two quarters. The only questions are how restrictive measures will be and what specific form those measures will take.”
Casinos in Nevada had just started recovering from the first closures from the pandemic. A second closing could cause land-based casinos to have their worst year ever. Brendan Bussmann, partner with Global Market Advisors LLC, added, ““Vegas will always be Vegas, but the long term recovery of it will be that much further pushed out knowing that a potential shutdown could return again, especially if it does.”
Land-based casinos provide a significant amount of tax revenue for many states. With their closures, states will have more holes in their 2021 budgets to fill and less revenue to do so.
Fortunately for Michigan, their state has recently legalized online casinos. However, they are not up and running in the state as their legislative chambers continue the vetting process for the necessary regulations. These most recent restrictions may speed up this process.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, only time can tell what will be. For now, state governors are focused on public health and safety. Meanwhile, online casinos and iGaming providers are proving that they are ready to withstand the current crisis as they continue to expand across the nation.
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