The first casino to reopen in the U.S. offers glimpse of industry’s new normal

Idaho Casino

Gordy Young of Cheney, Wash., plays video poker in the Coeur d’Alene Casino, which reopened on April 27. Rajah Bose / for NBC News

After being closed for more than a month, the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel in Worley, Idaho, became the first in the United States to resume operations since the $75 billion gaming industry shuttered in March.

But post-pandemic lockdown, casino operations have looked very different. There is no all-you-can-eat crab at the buffet — which is closed indefinitely — but there is a video on a loop instructing people on how to properly smoke or sip drinks while wearing a mask. The Coeur d’Alene offers hundreds of casinos grappling with how to reopen a glimpse of how new public health measures may play out in venues known for drawing large crowds and selling fun.

Rather than waiting in line for all-you-can-eat crab and prime rib at the casino’s buffet — which is closed indefinitely — guests queued up at the main entrance, standing 6 feet apart, to have their temperature taken before coming inside.

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