Casinos in Billings ready to reopen on Monday

Posted at 10:45 PM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-02 00:45:11-04

It's been seven weeks since bars, restaurants and casinos in Montana have been open, but that's about to change.

One Billings casino owner has been able to keep all his machines with proper distancing, although he will not be allowed to have customers at the bar once Montana's closure order is lifted Monday.

The Lucky 7's Casino in Billings Heights is almost back to normal.

"It's eerie," Lucky 7's owner John Gies said about being closed. "It's completely different because there's nobody in here. It's nothing like it was when we opened."

That will change on Monday, the date identified by Gov. Steve Bullock to allow casinos to reopen while observing social-distancing guidelines.

"I'm ecstatic," he said. "I'm ecstatic just to see everyone again. It provides that social interaction that everybody needs, instead of being cooped up and not being able to get out and socialize. That's a big aspect of it as well."

Gies followed the state guidelines for approval by the Yellowstone County health office.

"We did spread our machines out to meet the social distancing requirements of six feet per machine throughout the whole casino," Gies said.

When you come into the casino, you can smell that it's been freshly cleaned.

That was a big part of getting reopened, and it'll be a big part of staying open.

"We did use industrial cleaners," Gies said. "That does kill the coronavirus. Really did a deep clean."

The cleaning will be constant when Lucky 7's is open.

"We're going to be cleaning our machines from top to bottom, the chairs and everything so when a customer leaves and a new customer comes in, they know that machine has been cleaned," Gies said. "Also clean all door handles both coming in and out of the building, every ATM, any touchable surface we will be hands on deck cleaning it to make sure everything is safe for our customers and our employees."

All four of his employees are ready for work.

"Even though, when they found out what they could get for unemployment, they assured us that they would love to come back and we appreciate that," Gies said. "We appreciate our employees hanging in there with us. It means a lot to my wife and I."

It has been challenging during the closure.

"The bills keep coming and especially with no income coming in," Gies said. "But we survived it and we will continue on. "

Gies also says customers will open their own beverages.

Soft drinks from the fountain will be served in plastic cups that will be used just one time.

He also plans on having hand sanitizer and gloves available for customers.