Casinos in Mississippi are no longer required to have employees and customers wear masks in their facilities as of 5 p.m. Friday (April 30), reports indicated.
The Mississippi Gaming Commission announced Thursday that it would no longer ask casinos to mandate mask wearing for workers and patrons at the gaming facilities.
According to a report from the Sun Herald in Biloxi, other protocols related to the COVID-19 virus must still be followed. Regular cleaning will continue and casinos will still encourage social distancing.
The Sun Herald reported that the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi would still require masks at their casino even after the new orders.
”For the safety of our team members and guests, we will continue to require masks at MGM Resorts properties at this time,” Beau Rivage spokeswoman Mary Cracchiolo said, according to the newspaper. “We are in the process of removing hand washing stations from the casino floor and will no longer be conducting temperature checks for team members as they enter the property.”
Since March 4, Mississippi casinos could allow 75% capacity on their gaming floors. Masks were required for all customers except when they were eating or drinking.
The state’s gambling industry is still trying to find its footing after a difficult 2020. Mississippi casinos broke a state record in 2019, bringing in more than $2.2 billion in gross gaming revenue. According to the American Gaming Association, Mississippi has 29 casinos — 26 commercial facilities and three on tribal lands.
That banner year, of course, was before coronavirus shut down the casinos in The Magnolia State as well as everywhere else in the U.S. market.
Casinos in Mississippi were required to close in mid March 2020 as a measure to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The Mississippi Gaming Commission issued permission for them to reopen on May 21. With all casinos closed and with no online gambling options, the state took in no gaming revenue for that period in between. For an indicator of how much revenue went missing at that time, look at March 2021 figures: The state made more than $210 million in revenue on slots alone, with another $28.6 million in revenue derived from table games.
Mississippi’s casinos accept sports bets, but only on site. The state’s revenue potential is blunted by the fact that it has no true mobile sports betting option. Mississippi took in more than $50 million in sports betting handle for March, up 5.7% from February, and took in about $2.5 billion in slots handle and $165.1 million in table games handle.