HIALEAH, Fla. – Welcome to poker through plexiglass at the Hialeah Park casino, where sanitized gaming will be the new normal.
The casino’s general manager Steve Calabro gave Local 10 News a tour of the now socially distanced cash playground where, starting today at 9 a.m., gamblers must get their temperature checked and approved before placing a bet.
The same machine that takes that temperature will remind a guest that they need to wear a mask.
With fewer chairs at the table and every other slot machine turned off to ensure distance, Calabro says visitors will be safe and that every surface will be wiped and cleaned around the clock.
"We have five sets of cards. We’ll use them for three hours and then those cards get put into a bin and they’re going to be put in a certain spot where they can be disinfected,” he said.
Chips on the poker table will be cleaned with UV light.
It’s a unique challenge for casinos across South Florida that are now reopening, including the Seminole Hard Rock, which also opens its doors Friday with a number of new safety guidelines.
The Big Easy Casino in Hallandale Beach also sent Local 10 a video showing how they’re preparing for their Friday reopening.
These reopenings mean a return to work for thousands of casino employees across South Florida, including 350 at Hialeah Park.
Calabro says that, for now, his casino will be operating at half capacity.
“Will we be as profitable as we have in the past? Probably not,” he said. “But we’ll survive, and the key to survival is safety.”