St. Charles County Executive wants all casinos to stay closed until they can be opened safely

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ST. CHARLES, MO – Ameristar Casino in St. Charles could be opening its doors as early as May 16.

The news of the reopening is causing some concerns with the St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann.

“Delay the opening of the boat until all the boats can in fact open,” Ehlmann said.

Even as St. Charles uses Governor Mike Parson’s approach on the reopening process, that’s how St. Charles County Exec Steve Ehlmann feels as he’s stopping short of wanting Ameristar to be the only casino back in action.

“Hold off until all the boats can open,” the county exec said. “That would be much better than having one single boat in the region.”

The county exec says there’s already talks with Missouri’s gaming commission and the governor to potentially reopen casinos as early as May 16.

There’s word, Boyd Gaming, which owns the Ameristar, already submitted a proposal on how the gaming floor would operate with COVID-19 restrictions like social distancing.

With knowledge of that, Ehlmann says he’s reached out to the governor with his concerns of opening too soon and creating too big of a problem.

“I expressed that concern to the governor and I think he shares in that concern,” Ehlmann said of his conversation with the governor.

What alarms Ehlmann the most is the hard data coming out of his county.

As of Wednesday, people ages 50 and older make up 97.8 percent of the COVID-19 deaths in St. Charles County with 50 percent of those people being ages 71-84.

Essentially, casinos primary gamers.

“It means a lot of people from that most affected group of people mostly likely to have the virus and most likely to die from it will be coming to the boat in St. Charles,” he said.

With surrounding casinos potentially staying closed if the governor gives the go-ahead, County EXEC Ehlmann further believes that could mean Ameristar could attract the masses, thus creating a problem within itself.

Ameristar’s parent company, Boyd Gaming, released a statement about the potential reopening saying, “We look forward to re-opening as soon as it is considered safe to do so, and once when we have received required regulatory approvals. We are optimistic that we will be allowed to re-open in the near future, but we do not have a specific date at this time.

Our utmost priority is protecting the health and safety of our guests, team members and community.  When the time comes to re-open, our safety protocols will meet or exceed the guidelines set forth by local, state and federal officials.”

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