COVID-19 and Ohio's Casinos

Ohio was one of the last markets in the US to legalize casinos, with four land-based casinos opening in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Toledo between 2012 and 2013.

Over recent years, however, their revenues have been declining, arguably due to the oversaturation of casinos found at racetracks – or racinos as they are commonly referred to as.

Brick and mortar casinos are also being affected by the rise of online gaming and the convenience and added bonuses the latter provide. Leading digital platform Gala Spins shows that some online casinos offer cash bonuses and free spins to new members, with bonuses going up to $23.

And this is just one example of the enticing daily offers that digital providers use to get new players. Ohio's casinos have worked hard to combat these problems, introducing loyalty programs that can let you stay and dine for free.

With the recent outbreak of the coronavirus, it seems all of these efforts might have been for naught.

In response to coronavirus directives to limit crowded gatherings, various casinos across Ohio announced they would temporarily close. The Ohio Casino Control Commission, which is in charge of the state’s four major casinos, sent a request on the evening of March 13 that they follow the directive issued by Gov. Mike DeWine to limit gatherings to 100 people or fewer.

According to the commission’s statement, "Each casino is to be in compliance with the directive by midnight. In addition, properties must submit to the Commission their plans to maintain compliance."

After this announcement, Hollywood Casino Columbus posted on Twitter it would close to follow this order, and the Toledo branch posted on its website that it would temporarily close.

Similarly, it was announced on WLWT-TV that JACK Casino Cincinnati, under the ownership of Hard Rock International, would also close because of the order, along with the JACK Cleveland Casino.

The racinos were also affected, under the jurisdiction of the Ohio Lottery Commission. They posted an order on their website asking racinos to comply with DeWine’s order on the same evening. MGM Northfield Park was among the first to comply, with the Chief Operating Officer, Bill Hornbuckle reassuring employees and partners that they would make efforts to mitigate the impact of the closure.

Across the country, the impact of COVID-19 is clearly being felt in the gaming community. In Las Vegas, more than a dozen resort casinos on the Las Vegas Strip have temporarily shut down, including all 13 MGM Resorts properties, the Wynn and Encore, as well as The Cosmopolitan. Similar measures are also being taken in many other states.

Due to the often crowded and interactive nature of casinos, it should come as no surprise that many are being closed to encourage social distancing and quarantine measures.

For more information on Ashland community updates regarding the coronavirus outbreak, feel free to check out our local website.

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