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Be prepared for a different casino experience

Well, there went a missed opportunity.

I should have invested in a Plexiglas company.

With casinos across America reopening or contemplating turning the lights back on, you may not recognize your favorite gambling establishment. Health and safety are the watchwords these days as we continue to reclaim our freedom during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s going to mean adjusting the way we act and how we enjoy our casino experience for the foreseeable future, or until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine which will be available to everyone.

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You’re going to have your temperature taken before you can even enter a casino. You may be required to wear a face covering of some sort. Your favorite video poker or slot machine, which you’ve been playing for years may be shut down as social distancing policies require every other slot to remain dark.

You may find fewer opponents at the blackjack table. Same thing at the poker table. And if you find an open spot, you’re likely to be separated from the dealer and other players by the aforementioned Plexiglas screen. You’re not going to like it, but think of it as being at a hockey game and you’ve got great seats right down on the ice. Just don’t bang on the glass.

You’re likely going to be hungry at some point. Your past routine may have included a trip to the buffet where you could use your points or a 2-for-1 coupon to eat for free or next to nothing. There’s probably not going to be a buffet open. And if there is, you won’t be serving yourself. Every single item will be served to you by an employee. That’s a lot of manpower and some casinos may decide that it’s not cost effective to open the buffet.

If there are restaurants where you can sit down and be served, you may find yourself waiting a while since capacity will only be half or less than normal. And once you get in, you’ll be separated from your fellow diners.

Food courts will have a similar protocol for seating. You’ll be at least six feet away from someone else, and that’s if they even open the area that has the tables. It could be a grab-and-go situation where you have to take it and perhaps eat at your machine, which I doubt any casino will permit given the strict cleaning rules that are part of reopening.

Some casinos may not have waitress service if you’re thirsty while playing a slot machine. That cup of coffee or bottle of beer may require your going over to the bar.

But wait. There’s more.

According to the guidelines set forth by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, no large gatherings are permitted in the race and sportsbooks. So if you planned to watch NASCAR or golf on a Sunday in the book, you may not be able to. Same if you’re a horseplayer. You may not be able to spend the day watching and betting the races. You could be forced to make your bets and leave.

The books are trying to get clarification from the state on seating. If you’re a horseplayer and you have action on a multi-race wager such as a Pick 3 or a Pick 6, you’re going to want to stick around and see how it turns out. You may want to bet other races at other tracks.

Will you be able to sit at your usual seat, handicap the races, make your bets and be able to watch?

You can also anticipate longer waits to bet and giving your fellow bettors acceptable social distancing while in line. And more than likely, once you get to the window, there will be that dreaded Plexiglas barrier separating you from the ticket writer. For those of you who remember Off-Track Betting in New York City, it will be a trip down memory lane.

We’re all creatures of habit and we are comfortable doing things a certain way. To me, these are minor inconveniences. We are good at adapting and adjusting and this will be no different. We won’t like it, but if it’s between not having a cocktail waitress bringing you a drink or staying home and making your own Jack and Coke, I’m pretty sure what choice you’ll make.

You’ve been cooped up inside your home for more than two months. You want your life back. Visiting a casino would be a small piece of regaining the freedom you are craving. If it means finding a different machine than you’re accustomed to playing or sitting at a blackjack table with a barrier, you’ll find a way to figure it out.

Heck, it may even change your luck for the better.