US Commercial Casinos Near Blanket Shutdown Amid COVID-19 Closures

Commercial casinos across the United States are nearing totality in terms of closing their venues to help stop widespread transmission of the pandemic COVID-19 novel coronavirus. Recent updates show that 20 or less of the countrys commercial casinos remain open as of Tuesday, March 24.

By: Haley Hintze

According to a press statement from American Gaming Association president Bill Miller, first issued on March 19 and since then receiving frequent updates, some 95% of the country’s 465 commercial casinos are currently closed.

The figure for commercial-casino closures has, to date, outpaced that from the country’s tribal casinos. The AGA’s latest update on tribal casino closures shows that 83% of those venues have voluntarily closed their facilities. Virtually all of the US’s many hundreds of tribal casinos operate on sovereign tribal or “land in trust” sites, and are generally not subject to state-level closure orders, such as that which closed down many Nevada casino operations.

The single largest remaining area where commercial casinos remain open is South Dakota’s Deadwood region, near Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills. The Deadwood region itself is home to a couple of dozen casinos, a handful of which also offer live poker. According to American gambling beat writer John Mahaffey, 17 of the area’s casinos remain open, representing almost all of the still-open commercial casinos in the States.

Per Mahaffey’s latest update, the options for live poker play are actually far fewer. The two largest poker rooms in the area are at the Silverado and Cadillac Jack’s casinos. The Silverado remains open but has shuttered its table games, including poker, though the live poker play continues at Cadillac Jack’s.

Deadwood mayor Dave Ruth, Jr., who moonlights as a table-games supervisor at the Silverado, recently issued a call for all of the area’s casinos to close. To date, however, most of the Deadwood casinos have resisted the call to close. Many South Dakotans expected that a COVID-related update from South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem might mandate the casinos’ closure.

However, the executive order Noem issued last week stopped short of mandating the Deadwood casinos’ closing, purportedly over concerns about the legality of such an action. Instead, while still recommending closure, Noem’s order specified a series of recommendations designed to limit exposure to and possible spreading of the deadly virus.

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