Just guessing here, but if Dr. Nate Smith, the state’s top health doctor, continues to resist a mounting cry to quickly reopen beauty shops (and a lesser din to reopen barbershops, nail salons and tattoo parlors), he won’t be moved to include the state’s three casinos in the governor’s goal of reopening some businesses May 4 during the so-called Phase One of a return to normalcy.
Social distancing at the craps table? Between slot machines?
Seems unlikely. But together, Southland, Oaklawn and Saracen are employees of thousands, not counting the numbers at work in major hotel construction projects at all three places. When finished, the operators would like to have a place for hotel guests to entertain themselves.
This Arkansas industry is nothing compared to Las Vegas, where even a Democratic mayor is shrieking to reopen its massive money machines. I bring this up because 1) there has to be significant heartburn from the loss of cash flow among the very powerful political players behind the casinos in Arkansas (particularly the Cellas at Oaklawn and the Jacobs family at Southland); 2) their closure is draining state tax revenue, and 3) there’s an Arkansas angle in casino reopening discussions.
That would be in Las Vegas, where Mena native Matt Maddox (brother of Republican state Rep. John Maddox) is CEO of Wynn Resorts, with 15,000 employees. He has released a plan that says, if the virus curve continues to flatten in Nevada, the Las Vegas strip could “slowly begin to reopen” in mid- to late-May with “extensive safety measures in place.” Check his plan out. The nature of his business aside, it’s the type of thinking that likely will emerge in Arkansas as a task force makes plans to open other high-employment businesses.
PS: Missouri is opening casinos May 4, but Republican politicians up there are on the fringe.
I’m not likely to be hitting the slots when they do reopen. And I’m still thinking hard about barbershops and reflecting on the hygiene customary most places in pre-virus days.