Michigan Casinos Will Reopen this Week
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Michigan Casinos Will Reopen this Week

Michigan Casinos Will Reopen this Week

Yesterday, a Michigan tribal casino started the process of reopening despite state guidance to remain closed.

Island Resort and Casino in Harris revealed a phased reopening last week after being closed for more than six weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended Michigan’s casino shut down last Thursday, but tribal casinos are not subject to state oversight. These businesses are regulated by the National Indian Gaming Commission - meaning they do not have to obey any closure order.

Despite choosing to follow orders and initially closing on March 21 alongside other businesses, Island general manager Tony Mancilla told WBCK FM it ‘didn’t make sense’ to remain closed now.

He said: “As far as the Governor’s order, those casinos are in the hot spot of Detroit. Those three casinos they have jurisdiction over are right in the middle of where all this is happening, and that makes sense. It doesn’t make sense for us here in the U.P. that was lightly hit.”

In some ways the statement made a good point - the lesser-populated Upper Peninsula, or the U.P., has not been hit anywhere near as hard as the Detroit area. In fact, Menominee County, where Harris is located, has only recorded five cases of the virus. This doesn’t, however, mean the virus wouldn’t spread upon the casino reopening. 

Island Resort and Casino has chosen to open up its slots floor, bingo, and eateries yesterday, May 6. 

Its golf courses will reopen on May 8, followed by the casino’s hotel on May 13. Island’s spa, convention center, table games, and showroom will reopen at an unspecified later date. 

Mancilla stressed to Fox 11 News that the casino was taking ‘all industry precautions’ to keep the venue safe. 

He said: “The facility will be cleaned and sanitized on a continual basis. Food and beverage will be served in to-go containers and customers will be offered their own golf cart if requested. 

“Customers and employees will be temperature checked at the facility doors. Per CDC guidelines any person with temperature over 100 degrees will not be permitted in the facility.”

Mancilla added that hand sanitizers would be available throughout the Casino and masks would be given out upon request. Plexiglass barriers have reportedly been installed to separate staff and guests where possible, and markings will be placed on the floor to encourage social distancing.

Concerns have, of course, been raised over the reopening - which the general manager has dismissed. “Once people are in the facility, it’s their responsibility to take care of themselves,” Mancilla said.

It also remains to be seen just how many people will be able to attend the casino, as the state’s lockdown is technically extended until May 15. The new order lifts restrictions on some businesses and allows residents to go outside for recreational activities. However, the message remains clear that people should stay at home as much as possible.

Instead of going out to land resorts, many gamblers are trying their hand at online casinos.

The order requires residents to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces - something Island Casino plans to encourage, but not enforce. 

Extending the order last week, Gov. Whitmer said: “Staying home remains our best weapon to defeat this enemy and to stop the spread. With new COVID-19 cases leveling off, however, we are lifting some of the restrictions put in place in the previous order.”

It is thought the economy will be reopened in phases.

As of May 6, Michigan reported 43,950 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and 4,135 deaths. 

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