One-third of Michigan’s federally recognized tribes announced they will begin reopening their casinos on Friday, May 29.
Bay Mills Indian Community, Gun Lake Tribe, Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi and Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe are working in tandem to reopen their casinos. The seven casinos are Firekeepers in Battle Creek, Soaring Eagle's two properties in Mount Pleasant, Gun Lake in Wayland, Bay Mills in Brimley, Kings Club in Bay Mills and Saganing Eagles Landing in Standish.
“COVID-19 has impacted all aspects of everyday life and, as such, the casinos will operate under a ‘new normal,’” said Jamie Stuck, chairperson of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Tribal Council, as reported by MLive.
The plan comes as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer begins to allow regions of Michigan and sectors of the economy to open amid the easing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Last week, the governor extended the statewide stay-home order through June 12; casinos under state jurisdiction are required to remain closed. However, the governor’s stay-home and closure orders never applied to tribal casinos, which are not under the jurisdiction of state government. Tribes had voluntarily closed casinos to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Specific plans for reopening will differ between tribes; some of the casinos will open after Friday. Firekeepers Casino will open at 11 a.m. on Monday, June 1. Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe announced that it will begin opening its casino properties to invited guests on Friday and will open to the public on Monday. Bay Mills Indian Community and the Gun Lake Tribe have not yet announced opening dates for their casinos.
There are 12 federally recognized tribes in Michigan. Several tribal casinos not included in this group’s holdings have already opened or announced their opening plans. Leelanau Sands in Peshawbestown and Turtle Creek in Williamsburg announced plans to open their doors starting Friday. Little River Casino Resort in Manistee will reopen on Monday. Odawa Casino Mackinaw reopened on Friday, May 22. Odawa Casino Petoskey will reopen on Friday. Odawa Hotel in Petoskey will reopen on June 11. One Upper Peninsula casino opened on May 6.
The tribal casinos announced Tuesday a series of safety measures. Among them: limiting capacity, checking the temperature of every guest before entrance, requiring staff to wear masks and gloves, limiting the slot machines available, increased cleaning procedures, and reducing food and beverage service.
Jeff Morris, vice president of public affairs at Penn National Gaming Inc., which operates the Greektown Casino-Hotel in Detroit, said his company's facility will remain closed for the time being.
"The safety and well-being of our team members and customers is our top priority," he said, The Detroit News reports. "With this in mind, we continue to work closely with the Michigan Gaming Control Board and state and local leaders to develop comprehensive plans to prepare for the eventual reopening of Greektown. We look forward to sharing our property-specific health and safety protocols once they’ve received final approval from the Board."
The state's casino industry, which includes 25 gaming halls, shut down in mid-March amid the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes Detroit's three casinos, MGM Grand, Greektown and MotorCity, as well as the 23 tribal casinos.