Two months after they closed the doors, the leaders of Dubuque’s two casinos are unsure when they will be able to reopen.
Even so, officials at both properties started making preparations for when that day finally arrives.
Q Casino and Hotel CEO Jesus Aviles discussed the current state of affairs Tuesday during the monthly meeting of the Dubuque Racing Association Board of Directors.
“We feel that June is a month when we might be able to reopen, and we are doing everything we can to make sure we are ready,” he said.
The DRA is the nonprofit license holder for both Dubuque casinos. Q and Diamond Jo casinos have been closed since mid-March, and local officials expect them to remain shuttered until at least May 27, when the current proclamation from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is set to expire.
Officials at Q Casino emphasized they have taken multiple steps to prepare the facility for a new normal. General Manager Brian Rakestraw said these actions include ordering extra face masks and hand sanitizer, as well as creating floor markings that encourage proper social distancing.
However, officials noted that both the requirements and timetable for reopening are shrouded in uncertainty.
“Right now, we are in a waiting game,” Rakestraw said. “We are hoping to get at least a week’s notice on what the requirements will be.”
Due to their mandated closures, Iowa’s two casinos recorded no gaming revenue in April. They collectively generated $10.3 million in April 2019.
In some other U.S. markets, casinos are on the verge of reopening.
David Strow, a spokesman for Diamond Jo parent company Boyd Gaming, said Boyd-owned casinos in Louisiana and Mississippi are poised to resume operations this week.
“We’re optimistic that most of our properties will be reopening within the next several weeks,” he said.
Boyd Gaming has established its own safety protocol, which applies to all properties nationwide, according to Strow.
The guidelines include “guest health screenings” that are conducted on arrival. Masks are required for employees and recommended for visitors.
Boyd protocols also call for slots, table games and restaurant and bar seating to be reconfigured so they adhere to social distancing recommendations. Frequent disinfection of areas ranging from slot machines to ATMs also is mandated.
“People want to come back and have fun, but they also want to be safe,” said Strow.
During Tuesday’s DRA meeting, DRA board members did not discuss its annual grant program. The board voted last month to postpone awarding the grants, which typically had been announced in May. No timetable has been announced for their distribution this year.