Casinos begin to reopen in Missouri

Ameristar Casino

O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) – Casinos are beginning to reopen in Missouri after a more than two-month shutdown caused by the coronavirus, and it was clear Monday that many people were eager to gamble.

Nearly 100 people lined up awaiting the 9 a.m. reopening of Lumiere Place Casino in downtown St. Louis, including many older adults, most wearing masks, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. According to state health department data, 579 of the 772 people in Missouri who have died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, were age 70 or older.

Darryl Foster, 54, told the newspaper he wasn’t worried about the virus.

“I look at it like it is what it is,” Foster, of St. Louis, said. “If it’s gonna get you, it’s gonna get you.”

In the Kansas City area, gambling was resuming at Ameristar, Argosy, Isle of Capri and Harrah’s, after the statewide order suspending operations expired. The Kansas City Star reported that several casinos would operate at a limited capacity and some amenities such as live entertainment and buffets would remain closed.

Mike Leara, chairman of the Missouri Gaming Commission, told the Star that the state’s 13 casinos and the commission reached an agreement calling for enhanced cleaning, closing down every other slot machine, requiring masks for employees and other measures. The commission had suspended the casino licenses March 17 as the coronavirus began to spread.

“One of the toughest parts of this decision was putting 9,000 people out of work,” Leara said.

St. Louis County, which has been hit harder by deaths and cases of the coronavirus than anywhere else in Missouri, will allow its two casinos to reopen June 15, County Executive Sam Page announced Monday as part of the county’s phased-in reopening plan.

Page said bars can open June 8. Other businesses that have been closed, including casinos, fitness centers, movie theaters, bowling alleys and others, can reopen June 15 with restrictions.

For some infected people, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the coronavirus can cause severe illness and death. For most people, it causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks.

Missouri reported 64 deaths in a two-day period Friday and Saturday, but just one on Sunday. The number of confirmed cases on Sunday rose by 185 to 13,147.

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