If you want people to gamble again, they need to feel safe. For most Colorado casinos, that means going beyond what health officials require to reopen. Casinos in Cripple Creek, Central City, and Black Hawk opened this week, and in preparation, some invested in new technology while others restructured the floor design or added physical barriers.
Companies took these extra steps because of how the Colorado Department of Public Health worded their reopening approval. According to the department’s website, approval is based on infection risk. As we’ve mentioned before, counties are ranked from high to low on that scale. If that risk level suddenly changes, meaning an increase in cases, then all casinos in that affected county are on the clock.
“They have two weeks to implement a mitigation plan to try and restore virus transmission level to baseline under which the variance was approved,” health officials say in the approval letters. “If after two weeks the levels do not restore, then the capacity limits are automatically adjustment to the maximum of the new level.”
One to 25 new cases ranks as a low infection risk. Twenty-six to 50 is in the medium range and 51 and above falls under high risk. If a county goes from low risk to medium, the number of people allowed in the casinos drops from 175 per confined space to 100. And if it goes from medium to high, that drops all the way to 50. As a result, companies are taking extra precautions to protect gamers.
Wildwood Goes With UV Light
Part of the process for companies involves using new technology. Instead of just cleaning with sprays, mops and other typical products, Wildwood Casino is going with ultraviolet systems. You may think of the sun when you hear about UV light. It’s electromagnetic radiation that shuts down bacteria and viruses. When a strong enough dose of UV light hits either one, they become incapable of reproducing or infecting anyone. It’s also fairly quick when it comes to killing bacteria or viruses. According to a study by Advanced Biotechnologies, If you use a UV lamp, it only takes two minutes to kill all material in a petri dish. For cleaning a whole room, it’ll take about an hour. Wildwood is taking it a step beyond that, however, as they explained on their website.
“Unlike other casinos that are only cleaning each night, we will be closing sections of the casino throughout the day for continual cleaning,” the company said in the statement.
That means each day, sections of the casino will only be available at certain times. Wildwood will update that information on their website and provide announcements on site, as well as signs so people know which areas are shut down. As it takes an estimated hour to clean up with UV, expect areas to go out of service for about one hour and 15 minutes at a time.
Monarch Looks to New Technology
In Black Hawk, Monarch Casino is going a different route with microshield technology. First, surfaces get hit with an electrostatic burst, then they get covered with a disinfectant. Finally, a biostatic coating goes on. The idea is not just to clean for the day, but to protect against bacteria for months. Based on multiple reports, the system has a record of killing 99 percent of bacteria for multiple months. Monarch brought in contractors to apply the microshield before they opened last week.
Company officials also announced over the weekend they’re using new sensors to help control crowds. And while it’s new to the company’s Colorado operation, it’s something they’ve already tested out in Nevada. Casinos in Reno and other parts of the state were able to open earlier this month. Monarch installed the sensors to act just like car counters do on the road. As a car drives by, the sensor registers it. In Black Hawk, when a gamer walks into the casino, the sensor will make a note.
Monarch, Other Companies Remove Slot Machines
In addition, Monarch limited the number of tables available at the casino’s buffet and removed some slot machines. As far as the machines, other companies are following suit. Century and Bronco Billy’s will take more than 200 out of service. Employees for both companies will monitor social distancing, to make sure people steer clear of other groups. Billy’s is also considering a second option: installing plexiglass dividers between machines. That concept hasn’t been approved yet by state officials.