Kansas and Mississippi are among the latest states to close gaming properties because of the growing threat from the potentially deadly coronavirus. Kansas’s four state-owned gaming operations will close tonight through at least March 30.
The decision to shutter the Kansas venues came after Gov. Laura Kelly issued an executive order to prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people in the state. Restricting crowds to smaller groups is seen as a way to reduce the risk of higher transmission rates.
“After consultation with the Kansas Governor’s Office and the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, the Kansas Lottery has announced suspension of all state-owned casino gaming starting [at the] end of business on March 17…,” a lottery statement released early today said.
The four casinos include the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, the Kansas Crossing in Pittsburg, the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, and Boot Hill Casino in Dodge City.
The health and safety of casino guests and employees is of the utmost importance, ” the lottery added in the statement. “The [Kansas] Lottery understands the impact this decision will have on both players and employees. But the state must be dedicated to doing its part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Kansas communities.”
As of today, Kansas has reported 14 cases of coronavirus and a fatal case. The death took place in Wyandotte County last Thursday.
It involved an unnamed man, the Kansas City Star reported. He resided in a nursing home and appeared to have had preexisting health conditions.
The Kansas Lottery and casino management will continue to monitor the COVID-19 outbreak. The state is following Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
Mississippi Decides to Shutter Gaming Properties
Much to the southeast of Kansas, in Mississippi, the state’s Gaming Commission closed all commercial casinos on Monday. Tribal casinos are self-governing.
The decision to shutter the casinos came after MGM Resorts International said the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi and Gold Strike Casino in Tunica were closing their doors, according to the Sun Herald newspaper.
As of Tuesday, Mississippi’s casinos are closed until further notice. The situation with the virus and its impact on casinos is being reviewed each day, the news report said.
During the closure, only essential employees will be allowed in the casinos, the Gaming Commission said, according to the Clarion Ledger.
There were 21 people who tested positive for the virus in Mississippi as of Tuesday. The number jumped from Monday, after nine new cases were reported Tuesday morning, WLOX TV reported.
Gulf Coast casinos employ more than 10,000 employees. Typically, the casinos along the coast only close when a hurricane hits the region, WALA TV reported.
Multiple States Closed Casinos on Monday
Far north of Mississippi, Connecticut’s two tribal casinos were closed on Monday. New York and New Jersey officials also decided to close commercial casinos in those two states.
Additionally, on Monday five of Iowa’s 19 state-licensed casinos announced they would close temporarily to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.