Harrahs closed

Harrah’s Metropolis Casino has been closed since March 16. Gaming guidelines for reopening were issued last week by the Illinois Gaming Board.

While an official opening date has not been declared, the Illinois Gaming Board issued guidelines for reopening last week to the 10 casinos in Illinois. Each casino has been asked to submit a plan to the board on how the facility will plan to operate under the new guidelines.

Casinos across the state, including Harrah’s Metropolis, closed on March 16 due to COVID-19.

Emphasis has been placed on ensuring social distancing measures are being taken and deep cleaning and sanitizing will be required.

Other guidelines include:

• No more than 50% capacity

• All employees and guests are required to wear face coverings

• Employees must be provided with free personal protective equipment and daily screenings

• Dice and poker chips must be sanitized regularly

• Buffets, table game tournaments, valet parking, poker rooms and promotions where social distancing will not be possible will not be allowed

It is estimated the City of Metropolis will have lost $1.15 million in tax revenue by the end of June due to the casino closure, plus another $80,000-$100,000 in hotel tax revenue. Video gaming revenue will also be down about $50,000.

“When the company was directed to close its properties, more than 90% of our employees were furloughed. While the properties were closed, the management team focused on preparing for reopening by developing enhanced health and safety protocols incorporating directives from state and local authorities. The company is not disclosing financial data around the closure; however, it was generating virtually no revenues during the closure period while it was still incurring costs (e.g. rent, utilities, employee medical benefits),” said Ryan Bierbaum, director of marketing for Harrah’s Metropolis.

Illinois Casino Gaming Association executive director Tom Swoik said he’s hopeful casinos will reopen on June 26. The state is on pace to advance then to Phase 4 of Gov. JB Pritzker’s reopening plan, which would allow for gatherings of up to 50 people.

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