Social distancing name of the game for Arkansas casinos opening May 18

PINE BLUFF, Ark — The Arkansas Department of Health and Gov. Asa Hutchinson has given casinos the green light to start opening back up.

Each casino has to submit a list of protocols to the health department for approval. Social distancing will be the name of the game.

“It’s an extensive list of plans that we will implement,” Carlton Saffa said.

The Saracen Casino annex is planning on opening May 18. Project Manager Carlton Saffa is just waiting on approval from the health department.

“All indications we have received so far, have been that our protocols me their expectations,” he said.

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These protocols include:

  •     Required temperature checks of employees
  •     Face masks must be worn by guests at all times
  •     Distance between machines and some machines turned off
  •     Plexi-glass for cashiers
  •     The casino must operate at one-third of capacity

“If we get close to being at a one-third of the rated capacity of the building, folks will have to wait to come in,” Saffa said.

There will be six feet of distance between each guest in line. 

Guests will also be required to bring an ID. This is so the casino can keep track of who was in the building at any given time. Since the floor is covered with cameras, the casino will be able to look back at the exact machines you played and who you came in contact with.

“Dr. Nate Smith was particularly excited to hear about our abilities given surveillance to assist in contact tracing. We hope we don’t need it, but it is there,” Saffa said.

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Because masks are required, people will not be able to smoke. Security will be on the lookout for people who take their masks off and are not social distancing.

“We don’t take this lightly,” Saffa said.

Saracen will also operate under limited hours so staff can take the time to fully clean at the end of the day.

“You can expect when you get up from a machine, there will be someone shortly behind you to clean it. That’s not just the machine and also the surfaces you sat on,” Saffa said.

Saracen will be closing at midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends.