Colorado is struggling to tackle skyrocketing numbers of COVID-19 infections as the state rolls back counties to higher alert, prohibiting casino table games and reducing capacity.
Gilpin County Casinos Reduce Casino Capacity and Stop Table Games
Gaming properties in Black Hawk and Central City had to shut down their table games on 8 a.m. on Friday, November 13, due to rising COVID-19 infection rates in the Gilpin County and Colorado. Gilpin County announced a Safer at Home-Yellow alert, changing it from the Protect Our Neighbors status in force until Friday morning.
Gilpin County is only the latest to change its status, following El Paso County and several Denver areas which raised an alarm over the spreading of COVID-19 as early as last week.
As per the order, casinos will have to suspend blackjack, poker, baccarat, and other table games, which had the hardest time returning on gaming floors following the gradual relaxation of measures earlier this year.
In addition, casinos have had to reduce their capacity from 500 visitors to 100, and prohibit the sale of alcohol after 11 pm. The news was delivered by Ron Engels, commissioner for Gilpin County.
Before the shutdown, several properties had tried restarting operations, including the Cripple Creek Casino which reopened on June 15 but couldn’t obtain an official go-ahead to re-introduce table games.
In the meantime, Engels explained why the county had to act, citing the case count increasing rapidly over the past several days and weeks leading up to Friday.
Black Hawk and Central City casinos have acted preemptively separating their table games from the rest of the gaming floor. Casinos further divvied up their gaming floors into several sectors, increasing overall capacity and bolstering staff and visitors safety, but they are still subject to the new restrictions.
Casino’s Restart Coincides with Infections Increase
Things haven’t been going too well overall. As early as mid-October, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said that the COVID-19 cases had been climbing up steadily and authorities would need to introduce further restrictions.
The situation has worsened since October, and the number of cases has skyrocketed up 8.5 times. Positive tests have tripled prompting the Department of Health to caution Gilpin County on Tuesday that more restrictive measures can follow, which happened this Friday.
In order to see a relaxation of COVID-19 measures, the county would need to reduce the cases in the next two weeks to fewer than 25 per 100,000 tests.
Naturally, casinos haven’t been happy with the outcome, but Peggy O’Keefe from the Colorado Gaming Association said that the industry is going to work closely with the health department and remain prepared to phase in and out activities as necessitated by the epidemiologic situation.
Table games in Gilpin County opened in September when the county was allowed to switch to Protect Our Neighbors level of alert.