King’s Resort in Rozvadov, Czech Republic is reopening its doors for the first time in two months. The moves makes it one of the first casinos in the world to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Australian casinos hope to reopen during the next month. How King’s Resort deals with its grand reopening could push that date forwards or even backwards. The casino is owned by millionaire businessman Leon Tsoukernik, a polarising character who isn’t afraid to push boundaries.

Tsoukernik banned all Italian nationals from his King’s Resort earlier this year. He said the unprecedented move was “to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 infection.”

“The King’s Resort regrets to announce that given the evolution of the coronavirus epidemic that since a few hours ago also affected the Czech Republic, has decided to limit the access to all areas of the casino as well as not accepting any hotel reservations made by Italian residents. This is to preserve the health of its international clientele, and to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

King’s Resort fully closed less than two weeks later because of the Czech government’s social distancing rules.

Italy is one of the countries hardest hit by the virus. Large sections of the country were placed on full lockdown with residents unable to leave their homes for any reason. Italy has reported 221,216 cases of COVID-19 and 30,911 deaths.

How Can King’s Resort Reopen?

Infection and death rates for the Czech Republic are very low. There are less than 8,200 confirmed cases and fewer than 300 deaths. The Czech government acted swiftly and decisively to protect residents of its landlocked country.

It prohibited public gatherings. Unessential travel was curtailed with international travel essentially stopped. Those measures have worked as only 764 cases per one million residents are known.

A post on the King’s Resort Facebook page revealed details of the casino’s reopening. It highlights five points that are key to reopening.

  • Face masks must be worn at all times in all areas
  • Someone cleans and disinfects any area where a player sat once they leave the game
  • Casino employees will wear face shields at all times
  • There is no food allowed anywhere in the casino. Customers can order food, but it is eaten in a designated outdoor area
  • Food is served in sealed plastic bags. Canned beverages are the only drinks allowed. All food is eaten outdoors.

The food restrictions remain in place for two-weeks.

King’s Resorts has acted fast following the Czech government’s easing of restrictions. The wearing of face masks remains mandatory until the end of June. Public gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed. It hasn’t said, however, if foreign visitors are allowed back into the country.

How Will This Work?

The casino at King’s Resort is massive; it is one of the biggest in Europe. It boasts a 19,375 square-foot gaming space with more than 350 pokies. Table games, including roulette, craps, baccarat, and blackjack are spread.

King’s new measure could work well in table games. Player will likely wear gloves, making the need to continually sanitise chips and cards less. There isn’t much moving around in these games either and it is easy to see if a player has left the table.

Poker is a different story entirely. King’s Resort has the largest poker room in Europe. It is famous for 24-hour cash games and massive tournaments, including WSOP Europe. Tsoukernik hasn’t confirmed if and when poker is returning to the venue.

Cards and chips are handled by dealers and players at the poker table. Players are more likely to leave and join games, especially in tournaments where tables break up.

It seems like a logistical nightmare even without poker. King’s Resorts employs 600 staff and it looks like they’re all going to be needed.

Will Australian Casinos Follow Suit?

Crown Resorts and The Star are desperate to reopen after standing down more than 20,000 staff between them. Both venues have their hotel business to fall back on, but they’re operating at reduced capacity.

A special think tank is discussing the possibility of Crown and other gambling venues reopening. Talks are underway about how to best manage the influx of people pouring through the doors.

Casinos, pubs and clubs will reopen eventually, but they’ll be different from before. They’ll also be the first places forced to close should a second peak in infections occur.