By Sunil Singh
As the world slowly starts to get back to normal with COVID-19 vaccines helping to create a more positive vision of the future, more people may be considering visiting casinos again.
While 2020 was a bad year for the gambling industry – a tracker from the American Gaming Association says 78 US casinos are still shuttered – there are signs this year will be better.
Casinos in California have introduced a wide array of measures in order to protect their guests and staff, while they also have to abide by the state’s policy on face masks.
The latest guidance on the matter is that all Californians, with limited exceptions, have been ordered to wear a mask or face covering when outside of their home.
A clean mask should be worn every time Californians leave their house, with state guidance reminding individuals their mask needs to cover both their nose and mouth to be effective.
The first thing to know is that at casinos around California policies regarding mask wearing, social distancing and other safety measures have been evolving since sites were given the green light to reopen.
Californians have flocked to online alternatives for their casino fix so any people heading to a land-based casino for the first time in a while might be surprised at how things work now.
For example, Pechanga Resort Casino initially allowed patrons to wear neck gaiters and balaclavas before announcing these would no longer be permitted from September 2020.
Smoking indoors was also banned at the casino in order to help to improve the air quality inside the venue, while temperature checks for all persons including members of staff are carried out on entry to the building in order to vet individuals for coronavirus.
Secondly, many casinos in California have face coverings available for people to use, in the event that they have not got one with them for whatever reason.
Agua Caliente Casinos in Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and Cathedral City are all open and have face coverings available for their patrons. More hand-sanitizer stations have been installed throughout the casinos and social distancing at a minimum of six feet is being enforced too.
Solid masks are a third thing to think about at Californian casinos nowadays. These are required at Valley View Casino & Hotel, which claims to be the most popular casino in San Diego.
At Valley View Casino & Hotel, guests are told they cannot wear a bandana, scarf, handkerchief or neckerchief as a face covering when inside the building. Staff at this Californian casino will also be wearing their face masks at all times to help to restrict the spread of the virus too.
While free COVID-19 testing is now more widely available, casino guests may be positive with the virus without having any symptoms whatsoever. This is why casinos in California are carrying out temperature checks on entry, in addition to their face mask policies.
Fourthly, masks with valves have been banned at a lot of casinos in the state, including at Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa, which can be found near Cabazon.
When Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa reopened last year after being closed for around two months, masks with valves in them were initially permitted to be worn by patrons.
However, a change in the face covering policy at the casino was introduced at the end of August to bring the site in line with updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.
Research carried out at Duke University also found that air could more easily escape from masks with valves, indicating these were not as safe as other solid types of face coverings.
“We want to emphasize that we really encourage people to wear masks, but we want them to wear masks that actually work,” said the university’s Dr. Martin Fischer.
The fifth and final thing to know about the face mask policy in Californian casinos right now is that bandanas are no longer allowed.
Sycuan Casino Resort was among the first casinos in the state to ban bandanas, noting they do not provide the required level of protection when compared to other types of face covering.
Anyone planning to visit one of the many casinos in California should ensure they have the right face covering before attempting to enter one of the facilities.