Indiana Casino Update: Flood Closes Caesars, Tropicana OKs Some Smoking

Two southern Indiana casinos made announcements Thursday. One had to close on Thursday morning temporarily for a non-COVID reason, while another eased some COVID restrictions.

Caesars flooding
Caesars flooding
An aerial shot of Caesars Southern Indiana, which closed temporarily Thursday because of flooding. (Image: WDRB-TV)

Officials at Caesars Southern Indiana decided to close Thursday morning due to flooding in the region.

Flooding does not present a problem at the Tropicana Evansville, as management there announced slots players will now be able to smoke and drink while playing slots.

Not the First Flood for Caesars

Caesars typically ranks among the state’s top tax revenue generators. However, flooding has been an occasional issue for the casino since it opened more than 20 years ago. In both February 2018 and 2019, the casino then known as Horseshoe Southern Indiana was shut down for short periods due to flooding.

The Caesars announcement comes as the Ohio River reached minor flood stage in Louisville, Ky., which is located directly across from the casino. The swelling is a result of record rainfall from last weekend, and that precipitation was on the heels of a days-long snow and ice storm that pelted the Ohio Valley region.

The closure affects all events and entertainment at the land-based venue.

For the well-being of our team members and guests, Caesars Southern Indiana will reopen once water levels have receded to a safe level,” a statement on the casino’s Facebook page said. “We are closely monitoring the river forecast and a future announcement regarding reopening will be sent as soon as possible.”

Louisville’s WDRB-TV said the closure included the hotel and part of a parking garage at the property was underwater.

A statement from the National Weather Service in Louisville Thursday morning indicated a flood warning would remain in effect until Monday evening. Meteorologists expect the river to crest on Saturday afternoon.

All other Indiana casinos remain open. However, next door in Ohio, Cincinnati’s Belterra Park shut down early Wednesday morning because of the high water.

The Boyd Gaming-owned racino is located near the banks of the river on the city’s east side. The flooding right now only affects the park’s casino. Thoroughbred racing will not resume at Belterra until late April.

Smoking at Trop Slots Only

Improving COVID conditions in Vanderburgh County in southwest Indiana allowed Tropicana Evansville to allow some smoking and drinking on the gaming floor.

Jenny Reske, deputy executive director for the Indiana Gaming Commission, told on Thursday that casinos can reintroduce smoking based on the county’s advisory level. Vanderburgh’s two-week metric is currently at the blue level, the best on a four-level scale.

In a Facebook post announcing the change, casino officials said smoking and drinking remain prohibited at table games. Staff will strictly enforce the policy.

“Masks must be worn at all other times, covering both your nose and your mouth,” the post read.

Smoking and drinking privileges are only for those playing slots. Casino staff will not allow patrons to eat, drink, or smoke while standing or walking around the casino.

The announcement drew a mixed reaction on the social media page. Some said allowing customers to smoke and drink will lead to more gaming revenue. However, others enjoyed the smoke-free atmosphere.

“Now that we are getting our COVID shots, it would have been interesting to see how many more came back with a smoke-free environment versus a smoking environment,” said one customer. “I was happily looking forward to a non-smoking environment.”

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