Delaware Park tests casino employees ahead of Monday reopening

Thursday 28th May 2020

There's a new piece of technology at Delaware Park, and it's not going to help anyone make money.

Rather, it might prevent a casino customer from making money in an effort to keep the casino's employees and other guests safe.

Greeting Delaware Park gamers when they arrive at the Stanton casino Monday will be thermal fever-detecting cameras.

It's one of many changes happening inside Delaware Park as it prepares to reopen in accordance with phase one of Delaware's coronavirus reopening plan.

On Wednesday, the casino continued its training and preparation for Monday and said it was testing 600-plus employees for COVID-19. The results from those tests are expected back Friday, three days before Delaware Park is permitted to open its doors again.

"It's been overwhelming how many people have been so happy they can get tested," Delaware Park president Bill Fasy said.

The testing, Fasy said, was not part of Delaware's requirements to reopen, but the casino mandated that all employees be tested prior to returning to work.

"There's going to be some challenges (coming back to work)," casino employee Melanie Chamberlin said. "I'm a little uneasy considering the situation, but just trying to have a positive attitude."

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George Papanier, president and CEO of Twin River Worldwide Holdings, Inc., which owns Dover Downs, said in a letter to guests last week that safety measures at the company's casino properties in Rhode Island, Mississippi, Colorado and Delaware would include "screening of team members and guests upon entrance to the property" and "potential use of thermal imaging cameras."

Casino revenues in Delaware came to a full stop when they were forced to shut their doors in March as the pandemic reached Delaware.

Fasy said Delaware Park is projected to lose money in 2020 as revenues slip some 40%.

"We don't think we're going to make money for 10 days," he said when asked how the casino can make money with the amount of restrictions in place.

Delaware's phase one guidelines for casinos limits occupancy to 30%. Table games will not be open yet and gaming machines must be kept at least eight feet apart and be disinfected every 15 minutes to 2 hours.

Any gaming area with multiple guests needs to be arranged in a way to ensure that guests are properly socially distanced at all times, according to the guidelines. Employees will be assigned to ensure guests do not congregate in groups.

Story continues below the document (casinos are on page 20).

Fasy said about 40% of the casino's employees will return Monday when Delaware Park opens its doors.

There is no current timetable for when table games will get the green light, but Fasy said they're already planning for a future that could include players not touching chips.

"Not every table game player is going to like it, but it's going to be safer for everyone," he said.

"We all don't know what it's going to be like in six months or if there's a recurrence, but I'm confident in the customer having enthusiasm to return."

The Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission approved the track's modified racing dates at its monthly meeting last Wednesday. Delaware Park will conduct 65 days of live racing, from June 17 through Oct. 17. Total racing purses are projected to be about 30 percent lower this season.

The state's phase one guidelines do not allow for spectators at Delaware Park, Dover Downs or Harrington Raceway during horse races.

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