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Prairie Meadows gearing up for gaming

After a three-month hiatus, the Altoona casino is ensuring proper social distancing.

ALTOONA, Iowa — It's something a lot of Iowans have been waiting for since COVID-19 hit: the return of casinos.

When Prairie Meadows opens on Monday, you can expect several changes.

After a three-month hiatus, they're ensuring proper social distancing and conducting temperature scans for every guest. All employees are required to wear face coverings.

"We're almost as excited as we were the first day we opened: March 1, 1989," Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino President/CEO Gary Palmer said.

Doors open up at 8 a.m. Monday at 50% capacity.

"We can't wait to get our employees back, our guests back," Palmer said. "And we're doing everything we can to make it safe and comfortable for people to come out and enjoy themselves."

Every other slot machine will be shut off, and sanitation stations have been set up.

Smoke inside will be allowed. 

"We've got a great HVAC system that we pull in fresh air all the time," Palmer said.

In its first phase, card games will not be returning, but Palmer said they're working on a plan to handle cards and chips safely.

The casino said they've lost between $75 and $90 million, a number Palmer doesn't believe they can recoup. But by year's end, they'll be close to fully operational.

Other things to note:

  • Horse racing will begin on Friday, June 19. 
  • Buffets have been discontinued
  • Triple Crown Eatery will be made-to-order
  • A.J.'s Steakhouse will be seating by reservation only
  • William Hill's sports book opens Monday

RELATED: 5 Iowa cities make list of best places to live after the pandemic

RELATED: Reopening Iowa: Capacity restrictions lifted; pools and senior centers businesses able to open

WATCH: Complete coronavirus coverage from Local 5 on YouTube

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