Lockdown Eased in Finland and Casinos Reopened in America

Lockdown Eased in Finland and Casinos Reopened in America
Lockdown Eased in Finland and Casinos Reopened in America Pixabay

The 4th of June, 2020 was the day when many gaming companies across America reopened their doors to customers. As Gov. Steve Sisolak gave casinos the green light to go back to business, even more casinos announced their plans to reopen. Yet even with partially reopened casinos, Las Vegas and other cities presented on Thursday the picture of bustling joy, a far cry from the dreary emptiness they had epitomized since March. People were impatient to resume gambling and waited in lines for hours, some of them arriving to casinos at 4 in the morning. They confessed that, even with thousands of online casino games available to them during the lockdown, they missed the atmosphere of land-based casinos and were happy to visit them as soon as they opened again.    

Together with casinos, restaurants and bars adjacent to them began to take orders from customers this week. As Circus Circus Hotel & Casino welcomed their visitors, restaurants and bars on the Las Vegas Strip near it made sure the players had enough food and drink to refresh themselves after gambling. The Steak House at the resort, Pizzeria, Blue Iguana Mexican, West Bar, Big Chill, Westside Deli, and Lobby Bar, all were glad to dust off their menus after more than two months of idleness. Those people who waited outside casinos could quickly grab something to eat in Starbucks, McDonald’s, Subway, Krispy Kreme, Tasti D Lite, and Auntie Anne’s. A Fun Casino that is situated not far from Circus Circus offered players hot dogs and beer for $1.    

Apart from entertaining and feeding their customers, the reopened casinos worry about their health. Various measures are taken to keep customers safe: temperature is checked at the entrance to casinos, restaurants, and hotels. Prior to entering Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in Chester and Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack, people even need to fill in a small questionnaire. No entry is usually allowed to visitor not wearing masks. When customers get inside, they see social distancing reminders staring at them from everywhere. Signs warning about the infection were installed even outside the casinos in Mashantucket, Connecticut. When drivers were approaching Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun, they were met with four portable signs flashing: “Avoid Large Crowds, Don’t Gamble With COVID.” Inside the bars, plastic shields separate customers from bartenders. In hotels, cleaning staff places dirty linens from rooms in bags before sending them to laundry. Free toiletries in hotels’ washrooms are not exhibited on trays, as was the case before the coronavirus pandemic, but are given away now packaged.   

Unlike America, other countries are still temporizing, keeping their casinos closed to the public. Finland’s land-based casinos are still in quarantine, leaving Finnish people, admittedly the most avid gamblers in the world, no choice but to play at virtual casinos, called in Finnish “ikasinot.” Yet, as the Finnish government lifted some restrictions on the first day of June, there is hope that Finns will soon flood to real world casinos, like gamblers in America, Austria, Africa, and other places.

Indeed, the lockdown has largely been eased in Finland. The government has allowed restaurants, libraries, theaters, stadiums, and gyms to reopen. Finns can even now gather in groups of fifty people and organize small weddings and birthday parties. From June 1, professional sports and competitions will also restart, though the Finnish Football League will probably begin its training in two weeks. There are expected to be some restrictions on the crowd at the stadium. In two weeks, travelling to Europe will resume, too. Finns will be able to make work-related journeys to countries in Europe’s Schengen open-border area.   

Finnish people are certainly glad to get more freedom and diversify their activities after almost three months of the quarantine at home. But, compared to other countries, their lockdown was less tight. Finland was never so nonchalant about the coronavirus pandemic as are Sweden and Brazil, whose governments take an anti-lockdown stand, but it still allowed Finnish citizens to practice outdoor sports and gather outside. The only government company that was extremely strict when coronavirus reached Europe was Veikkaus , the Finnish national gambling operator. It shut down all brick-and-mortar casinos in March and switched off all slot machines in supermarkets, kiosks, and gas stations. Feel Vegas sites were closed across the country. Lotteries were suspended as well, though Veikkaus still continued selling scratch cards at dealerships. Raffle draws met the same fate, being put on hold in March and remaining in limbo until now.

In taking such drastic measures, Veikkaus was driven by concerns about the public health. Casinos are the place where people handle chips and cards and gather in large companies, which makes them a breeding ground for coronavirus. Keeping them closed during these two months was prudent and undoubtedly helped rein in the spreading of the pandemic. Now, when the disease’s reproduction rate (RO) has fallen to 0.8 in recent days and when the Finnish government is easing the quarantine restrictions, it is only a matter of weeks when casinos in Finland will welcome back its customers, as casinos are doing now elsewhere in the world.

 

 

 

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