The Mississippi Gaming Commission (MGC) recently released updated COVID-19 guidelines casinos in the state must abide by. However, the new guidelines will become operational from 4th March 2021 at 5:00 CET.
Although the state has lifted some strict restrictions in other sectors, casinos will continue to require a mask and social distancing. It is not entirely clear why casinos have to adhere to strict guidelines while other sectors of the state economy are enjoying somewhat lesser restrictions.
For now, the only change was the percentage of persons allowed into the casino. Let’s take a sneak peek at the new COVID guidelines set out for casinos in Mississippi.
Mississippi Gaming Commission Guidelines for Casinos
The Mississippi Gaming Commission (MGC) set out some new guidelines for casinos on Thursday. As part of the guidelines, wearing of facemask at the casinos was still prevalent despite a statewide easing of face masks in some sectors. Other guidelines are:
The allowed number of the guest shall be seventy-five percent of the casino’s maximum occupancy
A mask or face shield must be worn at indoor sections of the casino. However, it can be removed temporarily when eating or drinking or if a casino staff requests the removal of the mask for identification.
Social distancing must be practiced in the indoor of the casino, including among staff and patrons at casinos.
Signage displaying all COVID-19 symptoms and requesting staff or patrons not to enter the premises if they have any.
Sanitizing of high-frequency touch-points at least every two hours. Also, staff members shall be trained on proper disinfecting methods.
Keeping hand sanitizers at strategic points of the casino and signage requesting casino players to use before using the slot machines or gaming tables.
Guests who refuse to adhere to the guideline shall be warned and advised to keep to the requirements or should be asked to leave the casino hall if they continuously disobey the guidelines.
Overview of the Land-based Casino Industry in Mississippi
Interestingly, the history of gambling and casinos in Mississippi can be traced back to the 1700s. Then, racetracks were majorly the legalized form of gambling. The French settlers built the first racetracks in Mississippi. So goes to show that gambling activities have been going on in Mississippi for a long time.
Mississippi has more than 40 land-based casinos. However, the number would have appreciated, but Hurricane Katrina vastly affected the casino industry. Nonetheless, before Hurricane Katrina, land-based casinos in the state-operated from boats. The aftermath of the hurricane forced the Mississippi government to allow casinos to operate on-shore.
As soon as the state government permitted casinos to operate on-shore, it revived the Mississippi casino gambling industry. In Mississippi, poker games are the most popular. Almost all the casino halls have poker games. More so, some casinos also host tournaments. However, participating in social poker games in the state is an offense.
The COVID-19 pandemic largely affected the land-based casino industry in Mississippi.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Mississippi Gambling Industry
No doubt, the pandemic has hindered the Mississippi gambling industry from growing as expected. Remarkably, the damage caused by the pandemic affected gambling industries in other states too.
Presently, only about 50 percent of the casinos in Mississippi are operational. More land-based casinos are expected to resume operations in the coming weeks because of the increased percentage of guests allowed at casino halls.
Also, the easing of other restrictions will encourage more land-based casinos to open for business. Monetarily, the impact of the pandemic on the Mississippi gambling industry is estimated at billions of dollars.
Online Gambling in Mississippi
Right now, online betting in Mississippi is prohibited. However, the state only allows daily fantasy sports and games of skill. However, there are so many offshore online websites that offer online gambling services to Mississippi.
It is illegal to place bets from Mississippi from online platforms. Nevertheless, considering the hardship meted out on land-based casinos in Mississippi by the pandemic, there are serious campaigns to legalize online gambling in Mississippi. In other words, in less than no time, the Mississippi legislative arm of government may legalize online gambling.
The Future of Mississippi Gambling Industry
Considering the nature of the Mississippi gambling industry, gambling online real money remains the future. The new MGC guidelines may not improve the Mississippi casinos’ income as expected. No matter the effort put in by land-based casinos, it will be difficult for the land-based casinos to bounce back fully.
Not to mention, during the pandemic, online casino patronage surged upwards. Although online gambling is outlawed in Mississippi, it may seem that players are using VPN to divert their location.
Finally, 2020 was not a fruitful year for land-based casinos in Mississippi. Thankfully, the COVID-19 vaccine will reduce the spread of the pandemic and possibly eradicate the virus.