- By Levi Rickert
Updated March 18, 2020 - This story has been updated with a list of Indian Country gaming facilities that have announced temporary closures of their facilities. For more on casino closures and event cancellations, please check this story.
SANTA FE, N.M. — Tribes operating Indian gaming facilities across the country are making decisions to temporarily close their casinos and resorts due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
With many public venues now closed in the United States, tribal leaders across Indian Country have been meeting to evaluate the proper course of action relating to the safety of their casino/resort staff and the patrons.
On Saturday, Gun Lake Casino in Wayland, Mich.; Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula, Calif.; San Manuel Casino in Highland, Calif.; Buffalo Thunder Resort Casino and Cities of Gold Casino in Santa Fe, N.M.; and Jake’s Casino in Pojoaque, N.M.
The Bay Mills Indian Community in Michigan announced it would close one of its two casinos, The Kings Club Casino, according to a post on Facebook. The tribe's Bay Mills Resort and Casino will remain open until Friday, March 20, when it will close until Friday, April 10, according to a statement.
On Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, several other tribes announced they would temporarily close their casinos:
- The Yocha Dehe Wintun tribal leadership announced the Cache Creek Casino Resort in northern California would close temporarily in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Sunday night, the Nottawaseppi Huron Potawatomi tribal council and executive team of the Firekeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek, Mich. decided to temporarily close the casino due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic threat. No date reopening date was specified.
- The Table Mountain Rancheria Tribal Council and Casino Board of Directors met Sunday, March 15, 2020 and jointly agreed to the temporary closure of its Friant, Calif.-based Table Mountain Casino, effective Monday, March 16, 2020 at 6:00PM through March 31, 2020.
- The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians announced on Monday on its Facebook page that its Little River Casino Resort will be voluntarily closing temporarily "to do our part in support of Tribal, State and National closures and in the best interests of our team members, guests and community." The tribe said it intends to re-open on March 30, 2020 pending any unforeseen circumstances.
- The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians temporarily closed the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, Calif. on Sunday because of the coronavirus pandemic.
- On Monday, the Oneida Indian Nation announced that they will temporarily be closing all three of the tribe's casinos: Turning Stone Resort Casino, Point Place Casino and Yellow Brick Road Casino. The closures begin today Monday at 5 p.m. No date has been announced for the casinos to re-open.
- The Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee announced it will suspend operations indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak. The closure will begin at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 17. Employees will be paid during the closure.
The Buffalo Thunder Resort Casino, Cities of Gold and Jake’s Casino are owned and operated by the Pueblo of Pojoaque. Its governor said on Saturday the tribe is closing the casinos out of an abundance of caution and to promote social distancing as the deadly virus spreads.
“Our highest priority has always been the health and safety of our team members, our guests and our community” said Joseph M. Talachy, Governor, Pueblo of Pojoaque.
The closing of the Pueblo of Pojoaque’s three casinos becomes effective Monday, March 17 beginning at 4 a.m. for two weeks.
In some states, governors have signed executive orders banning gatherings of 250 people or more. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed one such order last week, but it does not apply to the state’s 23 Native American-owned casinos, the governor’s spokeswoman Tiffany Brown told Crain’s Detroit Business.
Tribes that are keeping casinos open are upping the ante when it comes to hygiene and communication with guests. Many Native-owned casinos are cleaning gaming stations more frequently, installing hand-sanitizer stations, closing down buffet dining and increasing staff training.
Some tribes have set up special websites to address coronavirus. In Connecticut, Foxwoods Resort Casino, which is owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, created a standalone page on its website to provide information and protect its customers.
Others have canceled live entertainment. Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino suspended entertainment taking place at its venues amid coronavirus concerns. The venues affected include; Hard Rock Live, The Comedy Club and DAER Nightclub & Dayclub. The postponement will last until April 15.
For up to date information on impact the coronavirus pandemic is having in the United States and around the world go to: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/?fbclid=IwAR1vxfcHfMBnmTFm6hBICQcdbV5aRnMimeP3hVYHdlxJtFWdKF80VV8iHgE
This is a developing story and Native News Online will provide an update when more information becomes available. In the event there are more casino closures, the Native News Online’s Indian Country Cancellations and Postponements Due to Coronavirus Pandemic article will be updated.
UPDATE: Casino Closings (as of 3-18-2020)
INDIAN GAMING FACILITIES – Temporary Closures
Twin Arrows Casino, Flagstaff, Ariz. Beginning Tuesday, March 17 at noon until April 6
Blue Lake Casino, Blue Lake, Calif. Beginning Wednesday, March 18 at 2 a.m. until the end of month. Reopening date to be reassessed.
Pechanga Resort Casino, Temecula, Calif. Beginning Monday, March 16 at 12 noon until the end of March
San Manuel Casino, Highland, Calif. Beginning Sunday, March 15, at 5 p.m. until the end of March
Four Winds Casino, South Bend, Ind. Beginning Tuesday, March 17 at 3 a.m. until March 30
Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel, Tama, Iowa Beginning Tuesday, March 17 through April 14
Prairie Band Casino and Resort, Mayetta, Kan. Beginning Tuesday, March 17 at 11:59 p.m. – Reopen date was not specified
Bay Mills Resort & Casino, Brimley, Mich. Beginning March 20 at midnight until April 10
Firekeepers Casino Hotel, Battle Creek, Michigan Beginning Monday, March 16 at 3:00 a.m. – Reopen date not specified
Four Winds Casino, Dowagiac, Mich. Beginning Tuesday, March 17 at 3 a.m. until March 30
Four Winds Casino, Hartfor, Mich. Beginning Tuesday, March 17 at 3 a.m. until March 30
Four Winds Casino, New Buffalo, Mich. Beginning Tuesday, March 17 at 3 a.m. until March 30
Gun Lake Casino, Wayland, Mich. Beginning Monday, March 16 for two weeks
Kewadin Hessel, Hessel, Mich. Beginning on Wednesday, March 18 at 5 p.m. until April 6
Kewadin Christmas, Christmas, Mich. Beginning on Thursday, March 19 at 5 p.m. until April 6
Kewadin Manistique, Manistique, Mich. Beginning on Thursday, March 19 at 5 p.m. until April 6
Kewadin Sault, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Beginning on Sunday, March 22 at 5 p.m. until April 6
Kewadin St. Ignace, St. Ignace, Mich. Beginning on Sunday, March 22 at 5 p.m. until April 6
Leelanau Sands Casino & Lodge, Peshawbestown , Mich. Beginning Monday, March 16 at 5:00 p.m. until further notice
Odawa Casino, Mackinaw City, Mich. Beginning Tuesday, March 17 at 4:00 p.m. until March 30
Odawa Casino, Petoskey, Mich. Beginning Tuesday, March 17 at 4:00 p.m. until March 30
Saganing Eagles Landing Casion & Resort, Saganing, Mich. Beginning Monday, March 16 at 5:00 p.m. until further notice
Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, Mt. Pleasant, Mich. Beginning Monday, March 16 at 5:00 p.m. until further notice
Soaring Eagle-Slot Palace and Bingo Hall, Mt. Pleasant, Mich. Beginning Monday, March 16 at 5:00 p.m. until further notice
Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, Williamsburg, Mich. Beginning Monday, March 16 at 5:00 p.m. until further notice
Buffalo Thunder Resort Casino, Santa Fe, N.M. Beginning Monday, March 16, at 4 a.m., March 17 for two weeks
Cities of Gold Casino, Santa Fe, N.M. Beginning Monday, March 16, at 4 a.m., March 17 for two weeks
Fire Rock Navajo Casino, Church Rock, N.M. Beginning Tuesday, March 17 at noon until April 6
Flowing Rock Navajo Casino, Shiprock, N.M. Beginning Tuesday, March 17 at noon until April 6
Jake’s Casino, Pojoaque, N.M. Beginning Monday, March 16, at 4 a.m., March 17 for two weeks
Northern Edge Navajo Casino, Farmington, N.M. Beginning Tuesday, March 17 at noon until April 6
Point Place Casino, Bridgeport, N.Y. Beginning Monday, March 16 at 5 p.m. No reopen date announced
Seneca Allegeny Casino, Salamanca, N.Y. Beginning Monday, March 16 at 8 p.m. No reopen date announced
Seneca Buffalo Casino, Buffalo, N.Y. Beginning Monday, March 16 at 8 p.m. No reopen date announced
Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, Niagara, N.Y. Beginning Monday, March 16 at 8 p.m. No reopen date announced
Turning Stone Casino, Verona, N.Y. Beginning Monday, March 16 at 5 p.m. No reopen date announced
Yellow Brick Road Casino, Chittenango, N.Y. Beginning Monday, March 16 at 5 p.m. No reopen date announced
Hard Rock Casino , Tulsa, Okla. Beginning Tuesday, March 17, midnight through Tuesda, March 31. Choctaw Casinos in Durant, Grant, Pocola, McAlester, Broken Bow, Idabel and Stringtown
Effective 11:59 p.m. on March 16; no reopen date specified
Muckleshoot Casino, Auburn, Wash. Beginning, Tuesday, March 17 at 3 p.m.
Ho-Chunk Gaming – Madison, Madison, Wisc. Beginning Tuesday, March 17 at 7 a.m. Plan is reopen on April 1, 2020
North Star Mohican Casino, Bowler, Wisc. Beginning Saturday, March 21 at midnight – for two weeks when reopening date to be assessed
Potawatomi Hotel Casino, Milwaukee, Wisc. Beginning Tuesday, March 17 at 5 p.m. Indefinitely
Editor’s Note: Native News Online remains committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information about the serious threat of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic.
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