MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Victoryland is welcoming patrons back inside of their facility after temporarily closing their doors in late March in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Entertainment venues in Alabama were allowed to reopen on May 22 at 5 p.m. under Gov. Kay Ivey’s amended safer at home order. This prompted Victoryland to reopen its casino at 8 a.m. Monday.
Victoryland President Lewis Benefield said they are keeping within the guidelines under the order. He said their facility is large enough to spread out people and machines.
“We are very fortunate at Victoryland that we have a bunch of space,” Benefield said. “When we built the facility, the new facility about eight years ago, we were able to spread everything out. This has allowed us to have more feet than most casinos between the machines and also it has allowed us to alternate which machines are on therefore people are not beside each other.”
Benefield said they have enlisted the help of a professional cleaning company to disinfect and sanitize.
“We have a professional housekeeping company, Kimco, they’re locally owned and operated. We have added extra staff from them. They are constantly wiping down machines,” Benefield said. “We are rotating different areas of the floor and doing deep cleanings throughout the day.”
Their employees are required to wear a mask and gloves. They want guests to do the same.
“We are encouraging people that come in to wear gloves and masks which will help prevent the spread,” said Benefield.
He said Victoryland and other casinos across the country have seen a “tremendous amount of interest in visitation.” Because of this, he said they have taken steps to limit their capacity.
“We’re not running any promotions that our customers love at this time because we don’t want to do anything to encourage any kind of crowd gathering,” Benefield said. “There would be weekends where we would have five to ten thousand people on hand in a given night and we can certainty accommodate that many people but we are trying not to encourage that many people at this time.”
Macon County Sheriff Andre Brunson visited Victoryland and said they are keeping within the guidelines.
“They’re in there practicing the social distancing and they are using every other machine, so I’m ok with that right now,” Brunson said. “You know, I see a few people that didn’t have on any face covering and I told some people at least wear some type of face covering and as long as they are doing that I’m ok with that right now, but if we see a spike in the near future you know we are going to have to talk about this again.”
Sheriff Brunson said he knows they are following the guidelines, but still isn’t sure if it will be enough.
“I don’t think that’s going to be enough,” said Brunson. “You know I’m very concerned about the economy here in Macon County you know I know we need the dog track, we need Victoryland, and we need for people to get back to work, but like I said, I’m actually more concerned about the safety of the people coming here and the workers.”
Brunson encourages those that do decide to come to Victoryland to wear a facial covering, social distance, and bring hand sanitizer.
“They’ve taken all the precautions that are needed to make sure that everyone is safe, but I definitely don’t think opening Victoryland is worth anybody’s life,” said Brunson. “Victoryland is safe, they’ve done a lot of cleaning, but we still want to make sure that everyone is doing the things they need to do coming here.”
Victoryland has decided it is too soon to open their hotel at this time. It will remain closed for the foreseeable future.