HAMMOND — The Horseshoe Casino is ready to welcome back its patrons Monday after being closed for an unprecedented three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dan Nita, Horseshoe general manager, said the state's most popular casino has been cleaned top-to-bottom, secured sufficient personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer for employee and customer use, and has a social distancing plan ready to be implemented.
"We are trying to do everything in our power to open up the safest environment possible, and one that people can still have a good time," Nita said.
The Indiana Gaming Commission this week authorized the Horseshoe, and the 12 other state-regulated casinos, to reopen at 6 a.m. Monday, provided they comply with extensive rules and regulations aimed at minimizing the spread of COVID-19.
At the Horseshoe, Nita said all employees and patrons will undergo a temperature check and brief health questionnaire before being allowed to enter, slot machine and table game seats will be limited, all employees and table games players will be required to wear a mask, and common areas and frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned often throughout the day and night.
"You'll see a lot more disinfecting than you've ever seen before," Nita said.
At the same time, not all Horseshoe amenities will be reopening Monday. Valet parking, the buffet restaurant, poker and pai gow rooms, and the Venue auditorium are remaining closed, in accordance with state regulations.
Nita said the reopening of the Horseshoe sportsbook also will be delayed since it looks like there will be a limited number of professional sports to wager on for the foreseeable future.
"What we don't want to do is bring team members back, and then if business is slower than we'd like, to put us in a position where we might have to yo-yo people back and forth," Nita said. "So we're going to take a staged approach."
For now, he said the arrangement of the casino floor will be familiar to Horseshoe patrons, with social distancing enforced by turning off select slot machines and capping table games at three players for blackjack, four for roulette and six for craps.
Depending on customer demand, and the duration of the COVID-19 prevention regulations, Nita said machines eventually might be moved to unused areas of the casino to give patrons more games to play.
"What we don't know is when the next phase might transpire and what that might mean," he said. "Is it going to be two weeks, or two months or longer?"
In the meantime, Nita said Horseshoe team members are "fired up and excited to reopen the doors" to patrons from both sides of the state line who have missed the excitement and experience of visiting the casino.
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