Older Gamblers Are Less Likely to Rush Back When Casinos Reopen

(Bloomberg) -- Older gamblers, a mainstay of casinos across the U.S., are skittish about heading back to slots and blackjack tables.

Only 40% of gamblers over age 60 said they would immediately return to casinos once stay-at-home orders are lifted, a survey found. That’s much different than what gamblers under 29 are saying, nearly two-thirds of whom would return when they can. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that adults 65 and older are of higher risk of severe illness if they’re infected with the coronavirus.

Another bad omen for casinos: About a third of those surveyed said they plan to spend less when they go back. And only 22% said they’ll consider visiting a casino that required air travel.

U.S. casinos were shuttered in the wake of the coronavirus, and while owners and regulators are making plans to reopen, most states are holding back on letting large entertainment establishments return until later in the nation’s recovery process.

The survey, conducted by Las Vegas-based game maker Synergy Blue, suggests casinos will have to work hard to win back some of their best customers.

Some are already trying. Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts Ltd. released a detailed 23-page health-and-safety plan last month that calls for temperature checks at the entrances. The casino plans to wipe down dice and slot machines after each customer uses them, and will hand out amenity bags that include masks and hand sanitizer.

The Venetian, owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp., also has released Covid-19 protocols that include temperature checks.

While health is a problem, it’s not the only concern. Of those surveyed who were unsure or not planning to return, 58% said it was because they are uneasy about the economy. The questionnaire, sent to customers in late April, received responses from 1,000 gamblers.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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