Argentina’s gambling scene is beginning to return to normal. It still has a long way to go, but has taken a step forward as casinos in Buenos Aires opened their doors for the first time in months yesterday. For now, there will be several restrictions in place to try to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19, but the country had to start somewhere.
The Hipódromo Argentino de Palermo racetrack and the riverboat Casino Buenos Aires in Puerto Madero are beginning to see activity. They were closed for seven months because of the coronavirus pandemic, but both are now starting to welcome back gamblers. Argentinian Minister of Health, Fernán Quirós, met with officials from the Buenos Aires City Lottery over the weekend to discuss how to get the properties up and running, finally agreeing to a series of measures that they hope will keep Buenos Aires from suffering the fate of cities seen elsewhere across the globe, which have been forced to close down once again because of COVID-19.
The properties will initially only be able to operate at 20-30% of their normal capacities, with the amount being determined by the type of ventilation system the venue has installed. Gamblers who decide to pay a visit to one of the facilities will have to sign a statement affirming that they are healthy and COVID-19-free and, for now, there won’t be any food or beverage service offered. Casino patrons will also find changes to gaming floors, with every other gaming machine turned off to ensure standard social distancing measures can be easily enforced.
At the tables, players will find themselves separated by Plexiglass dividers, now a common sight at casinos around the world. Face coverings are mandatory for everyone entering the casinos, and the venues will be required to increase the frequency with which they sanitize and clean all common spaces. These practices have already been proven effective at reducing the possibility of a spike in coronavirus cases and failure to adhere to the guidelines could cost gamblers or the properties.
Not everyone is happy with the way things are being handled in Buenos Aires. In particular, the mayor of the city of Buenos Aires, Rodriguez Larreta, believes that it’s too soon to allow casinos to reopen and was vocal during the weekend discussions in an attempt to keep officials from giving the green light. However, he ultimately lost the battle and only time will tell if his desire to keep casinos closed longer to thwart a new coronavirus outbreak was warranted.