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Gun Lake Casino reopened on Monday, June 8, 2020 with "Play It Safe Initiative" in place to ensure the health and safety of guests and team members are not compromised. Native News Online photographs by Levi Rickert

BRADLEY, Mich. — Gun Lake Casino reopened its doors Monday after voluntarily closing on March 16, 2020 to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The casino is owned and operated by the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi (Gun Lake Tribe).

Gun Lake Casino reopened with a “Play It Safe Initiative” in place to provide safety and a comfort level for guests and team members. Casino officials spent hundreds of hours thinking about how to ensure the health and safety for all concerned, including the community at large. Each operating department within Gun Lake Casino has developed specific, detailed policies and procedures to adapt to new circumstances and new information.

Play It Safe signs are posted throughout the casino.

“We are excited to welcome our guests and team members back to Gun Lake Casino,” Sal Semola, president and chief operating officer for Gun Lake Casino, said. “In preparation for our reopening, we have worked conscientiously to put extra safeguards and measures in place to ensure your continued health and safety. The result of these efforts is the Play It Safe Initiative.”

All protocols are based on the most up-to-date information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Gun Lake Tribal Health & Human Services Department on sanitization processes and cleanliness recommendations for the hospitality industry, as well as other pertinent industries.

Every other slot machine is off to comply with proper social distancing.

Key points of the reopening, which is being called the initial phase, include reduced operating hours, deep cleaning of the facility and a three-part entry screening that includes the use of thermal cameras.  Anyone with a fever will not be allowed inside. All guests are required to wear masks except when eating or smoking.  Gun Lake will have a few designated areas for smokers.  

As with other tribal casinos throughout Indian Country, the Gun Lake Tribe depends on revenue from the casino to help fund its tribal and local economy.

“Reopening the Gun Lake Casino is an important step for our tribal community, our friends and neighbors, and the team members who are so instrumental to our operations,” Chairman of the Gun Lake Tribe Bob Peters said. “Getting people back to work and getting our local economy running again is truly a blessing.”

Before coming back to work, every team member must be test negative for COVID-19. Thereafter, all team members must have their temperatures taken before the start their shift. All team members must go through mandatory training on COVID-19 that includes learning symptoms of the virus and coughing etiquette, how to properly wash their hands, and learn what services are provided by the tribe’s health and human services.

Four Winds Casinos to Reopen on Monday, June 15

The Pokagon Gaming Authority announced that all of its Four Winds Casinos locations in Michigan and Indiana will reopen to the public on Monday, June 15 at noon Eastern Time.

Located southwest of the Gun Lake Casino are the Pokagon Potawatomi’s Four Winds Casinos in the Michigan towns of Dowagiac,Hartford, and New Buffalo, Mich..  The Tribe also operates a Four Winds Casino in South Bend, Ind.

Each Four Winds Casino location has implemented changes to their amenities and services to help protect the health and safety of guests and employees, and will continue to provide an enjoyable entertainment experience.

“With the approval of our reopening plan by the Pokagon Gaming Authority and Pokagon Gaming Commission which includes the implementation of several additional health, sanitization and social distancing measures approved by the Pokagon Health Task Force, we are pleased to confirm that we will welcome guests back to all of our Four Winds Casinos locations on Monday, June 15 at Noon Eastern Time,” Frank Freedman, Chief Operating Officer of Four Winds Casinos, said. “As the health and safety of our guests and employees, has been and continues to remain our top priority, we will be opening with some changes to our amenities and services.”

For Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Tribal Council Chairman Matthew Wesaw, opening the casinos is essential to get the tribal economy moving again. He said unlike state and local governments, the tribe relies on revenue from its business ventures to fund critical services and programs for its tribal citizens including healthcare, housing, education, family services, financial support, elder care, police, courts and more.

“The reopening of our casinos comes at a critical time for our Tribe and our employees that are in need of economic relief,” Wesaw said.  

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About The Author
Levi Rickert
Author: Levi RickertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Levi "Calm Before the Storm" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].