Casinos up and down the United States are suffering from the pandemic, like many other businesses in the country. In a bid to keep down the spread of contagion, most US states have implemented shut down orders for their land-based casinos.
Michigan is one such state. While all state casinos have now closed, a sizable handful of tribal casinos have refused to play ball, causing confusion and in some cases, frustration within the gambling community.
Six Down, Eighteen to Go
Following the closure of Michigan’s land-based casinos, one might have expected that the twenty-four tribal casinos in the state would follow suit. To be fair, six of them have. However, eighteen have chosen not to toe the line, citing their own COVID-19 restrictions and precautions as sufficient. Of course, as tribal casinos are not subject to government control, instructions or orders, there does not appear to be much Michigan can do to stop them for the time being. However, the tribal casinos’ refusal to close has angered local gambling businesses, including the three commercial casinos in the state which must comply with the law.
What is the Situation?
Thus far, the Bay Mills Resort and Casino shut down on Wednesday and will remain so until December 8. At the same time, the five casinos owned by Kewadin (Casino Hessel, Casino Manistique, Casino Sault, Casino Christmas, and Casino St. Ignace) have all closed their doors and will keep them barred until December 9. Operated by the Chippewa Indians, they also closed on Wednesday. All six casinos have set aside money via the CARES Act to pay employees on furlough.
Any Sign of Change?
It is a different scenario for casinos such as Hannahville’s Island Resort and Casino, and the Ottawa Indian run Little River. These, as well as the Soaring Eagle Casino Resort run by the Saginaw Chippewa tribe, and fifteen others, are not considering closing thus far. However, the casinos have deployed new opening hours, such as Little River’s 8am to 10pm schedule, and all have committed to accepting no more than 25% of their usual capacity until the middle of December.
The tribal casinos are not the only venues to remain open. Thus far, several casinos in Atlantic City are showing no signs of closing, despite their counterparts in Las Vegas deciding to do so. It remains to be seen whether the new measures will prove to be enough to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan, which like other parts of the country, has seen rapid growth over the last fortnight.