Oxford Casino, which closed on March 16 in response to the coronavirus, barricaded its main entrance. It is expected to reopen soon. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat file photo

The state of Maine has developed a plan to allow Maine’s two casinos in Oxford and Bangor to reopen following their March shutdown for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hollywood Casino in Bangor is reopening Friday at noon. The Oxford Casino has not yet released its reopening plans.

In an online statement released last Friday, Oxford Casino indicated that its reopening was imminent.

“There has been tremendous progress made on our reopening plan over the past couple of days. We are getting very close, but are not in a position to announce details, as the State of Maine is still finalizing the reopening checklist. Rest assured, we will let you know when we will reopen and under what protocols once everything is finalized.”

Working with public health experts and the Maine Gambling Control Unit, casinos can reopen their facilities, dividing their main floor plan into four quadrants or zones with 50 people per quadrant for a capacity of 200 patrons, said Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck.

Checkpoints will be established between the zones.

Gaming officials will shut off various slot machines to maintain the 6-foot social distancing guidelines.

Table games will remain closed in Bangor. It was uncertain if those games will be in operation in Oxford.

Oxford Casino officials did not return calls Tuesday, nor did officials from its corporate owners, Churchill Downs.

“I do know that the casino is working with the Commissioner of Public Safety on reopening, but I don’t have any particular details to share,” Oxford Town Manager Butch Asselin said.

Employees and vendors will be tested daily and will be required to wear masks. Guests will also be required to wear masks in the casino.

“While the amenities our customers have come to know and love may be somewhat limited for the time being, the ability to safely welcome back our team members and guests remains our top priority,” Austin Muchemore, vice president and general manager of Hollywood Casino said in a statement. “Our returning team members will be trained on these procedures and our guests will see reminder signage about them throughout the property.

“We are grateful for the overwhelming support, patience and understanding from our customers through these unprecedented times, and can’t wait to welcome them back on Friday.”

Sauschuck said the general managers of both casinos worked with state officials to come up with a workable plan that Sauschuck believes will be safe for customers and workers.

Towns that receive financial support from the casinos will receive a boost when the casinos reopen. Asselin said the town of Oxford has lost $35,000 to $38,000 in revenues per week since the casino shut down for the coronavirus. He estimates that the town will fall $500,000 short of its anticipated $2 million in revenues for the current fiscal year.

“Other revenues picked up in other areas, so we’re still going to take a hit, but it won’t be as painful as we had thought,” Asselin said.

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