At 11:59 PM last night I was standing in a line of about 100 people outside Red Rock Casino. It was out of sheer curiosity, wondering what casinos would look like under the new normal in the post-pandemic world.
Like everyone, I’ve seen the pictures and videos of giant glass shields covering the tables and I’ve heard the horror stories of potential hygiene-related rules that will be put in place. I was ready for the worst.
I’ve been to grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, restaurants, retail shops, and pretty much every other place I’d normally visit in my daily life and the changes are noticeable. So I expected the casino, a place that’s essentially built on people touching common objects, to be completely unnoticeable to what I remembered before they were forced to shut down 79 days ago.
Midnight hit and the line started moving towards the door. In eight minutes, I found myself standing about 10 feet away from a machine that took my temperature. Two seconds later, I was cleared to enter, as was every other person in the line, and free to walk about the casino.
Every machine was on; chairs at every other one. Same at the bar, which was already full of people ordering drinks and tapping the machines in front of them. Table games were open, with fewer chairs, but running the same way they always were with people touching cards, chips, and dice. Despite a lack of live programming on the TV’s, even the sportsbook was open and seemingly operating as usual.
It was shockingly normal.
Which got me thinking about hockey.