Casinos in Minnesota will start re-opening Tuesday, May 26, after being shut down for more than two months already. Much alike tribal operators in Connecticut, the sovereign nations in the North Star State set their own timelines and rules for re-opening of business and do not need to follow state orders that allow non-essential businesses to re-open effective June 1.
Tribes Have Sovereignty
The gaming properties operated by tribes are adamant there will be strict measures and procedures inside the casinos once they re-open, as despite not supposed to follow orders, many tribes follow state’s guidelines and recommendations to prevent the transmission of the virus while operating. Tribal casinos in Minnesota closed in March, after St. Gov. Tim Waltz ordered bars and restaurants to temporarily shut down, to help enforce social distancing and stay-at home directives.
Mystic Lake Casino, one of the three largest in the state, will have some safeguards in place to enforce its measures and ensure risk of person-to-person transmission is mitigated. The operated by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) land-based gaming facility will have installed plexiglass shields and will ramp up its sanitization of surfaces protocols, on top of the reduced capacity on the gaming floor.
Strict Health and Distancing Protocols
Customers, as well as employees will have their temperature checked prior to entering the gaming facilities, which will be kept at half the capacity to allow for physical distance. Once inside the casinos, wearing a mask will be obligatory, despite some people arguing in forums and blogs that no one should be forced to wear a mask.
Only every other slot machine will be used, while the number of places at table games will be cut in half. Buffet and sit-down restaurants will not re-open for now, and dining options will be limited to pre-packaged items, as the tribe that has already re-opened its golf course and ice rinks is putting all efforts to ensure its casino is following suit by re-opening safely.
“We believe that it is up to us to build the confidence and trust of our guests and our teams. We are in a new place and a new time. We’ll be dealing with COVID for a very long time.”Angela Heikes, President and CEO, The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) Gaming Enterprise
Customers Slowly Returning Despite the Measures
One casino that already re-opened is Prairie’s Edge Casino Resort, located west of the Twin Cities, the Saint Paul – Minneapolis metropolitan area. The Upper Sioux Community’s casino has been operational since May 18, with about half the casino’s 1,100 slot machines switched on, and plexiglass shields installed between them as a precaution. Customers need to go through a temperature scan, as well as required to wear a mask, something that does not deter people from coming, with customers arriving even from Iowa and the Wisconsin Dells area.
Gaming tables remained closed, but players who prefer roulette and blackjack can take advantage of the video game machines that are open. Restaurants are open with limited capacity and the hotel is reduced to 70%, to provide more time for cleaning procedures.