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Four Michgan tribes reopening casinos as soon as Friday, Firekeepers reopening Monday

Posted at 8:58 PM, May 26, 2020

Four of Michigan's 12 federally-recognized tribes — Bay Mills Indian Community, Gun Lake Tribe, Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi, and Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe — announced the opening of their casinos relatively soon, with at least one of them reopening Friday.

Each tribe’s reopening date may differ, however at least one reopening is set to occur on May 29.

Firekeepers Casino (with the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi ) confirmed with Fox 17 that they will not opening this weekend, but they do plan to open at 11 a.m. on Monday, June 1.

The four tribes independently operate a combined seven casino and gaming sites across the state including:

• Bay Mills Resort and Casino (Bay Mills Indian Community)

• Kings Club Casino (Bay Mills Indian Community)

• FireKeepers Casino (Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi)

• Gun Lake Casino (Gun Lake Tribe)

• Soaring Eagle Casino (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe)

• Soaring Eagle Slot Palace (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe)

• Saganing Eagles Landing Casino (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe) Tribal casinos voluntarily closed in accordance with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan.

“We believe the state’s efforts to flatten the curve are working and have worked. We have positioned ourselves to safely open and welcome our guests’ return,” said Jamie Stuck, chairperson of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Tribal Council. “COVID-19 has impacted all aspects of everyday life and, as such, the casinos will operate under a ‘new normal.’”

As with the businesses currently operating and those planning to reopen, the health and safety of guests and team members is the number one priority.

In order to limit the spread of COVID-19 and value the health of it's guests, casino atmospheres will change as new procedures and protocols are implemented such as:

● Limiting the number of guests inside the casino

● Checking the temperature of guests before entrance and denying entry to those with a temperature of 100.4 F, in accordance with CDC guidelines

● Requiring staff to wear personal protective equipment, which includes masks and gloves

● Limiting the number of available slot machines and table games for play to adhere to social distancing guidelines

● Enhanced cleaning procedures for monitoring and sanitizing common touch points throughout the casino

● Enforcement of hygienic practices for staff and guests

● Reducing food and drink service options to limit human-to-human contact

● Dedicating a portion of team members to continuously clean and sanitize Plans for reopening will differ between tribal casinos as each is owned and operated by a different tribal government.

Though each tribe’s new procedures will vary, they are overseen by tribal gaming commissions who thoroughly regulate the casinos’ security, administrative services, gaming payouts and gaming integrity among other processes.

“Just as the state consults health professionals and experts in various fields, we also have experts and professionals advising the tribes and guiding our efforts,” said Bob Peters, tribal chairman of the Gun Lake Tribe Tribal Council. “We make these decisions and implement these procedures with the best evidence and knowledge provided to us.”

Michigan tribes rely on tribal casino revenues as their primary source of funding for essential services such as health clinics, social services, judicial services, security and elder care programs.

As casinos open, tribes will continue to monitor the most current findings and guidelines available. Tribal casinos have posted their safety protocol plans to the public via their websites.