Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods Latest Casinos to Close as Coronavirus Expands

Posted on: March 16, 2020, 05:41h. 

Last updated on: March 16, 2020, 06:34h.

Connecticut’s two tribal gaming properties, Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun, will close at 8 p.m. Tuesday to help curb the COVID-19 outbreak. They are expected to reopen in two weeks.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont played a key role in getting the state’s two tribal casinos to close, given the coronavirus outbreak. (Image: WVIT)

The move comes after the state’s governor, Ned Lamont, along with Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Phil Murphy of New Jersey, agreed early Monday to issue orders that bars, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, and commercial casinos would the three states. Commercial casinos in Atlantic City and New York state were forced to shutter operations at 8 p.m. today.

The governors additionally encouraged tribal casinos in New York and Connecticut to close. Connecticut officials had been in touch with tribal casino officials throughout Monday to get them to shutter.

This is an important cooperative agreement between sovereign nations and the state of Connecticut,” Lamont said in a statement, released late Monday about the two casinos closing. “We all share the same goal toward ensuring our residents are safe and keeping public health at the top of our minds during this public health emergency.

“I applaud the tribes for their collaboration and partnership,” he added.

Before the closure, Foxwoods suspended table games, high-stakes bingo, and poker tournaments. Electronic tables were still available early Monday. Tony Bennett’s March 13 show at Foxwoods was rescheduled for June 6.

Mohegan Sun had canceled the Poker High Hand promotion. Both casinos had also created distance between players to reduce the risk of transmitting the coronavirus.

Neither Connecticut casino has ever closed before. Foxwoods has remained open since launching in 1992. Mohegan Sun similarly was always kept open since opening its doors in 1996.

Tribal Leadership Recognizes Public Health Needs

“This is a humbling reflection on the ongoing public health crisis and it is the right decision,” Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which operates Foxwoods, said in a statement.

Our concern is for the health and safety of the community and of the public. The coronavirus is a threat to each and every one of us, and we believe shutting our doors will keep our visitors, employees, and the public more safe,” Butler added.

James Gessner, chairman of the Mohegan Tribe, which operates Mohegan Sun, a statement that, “Connecticut and our respective tribes have worked collaboratively for decades, and this moment in our history is no different.”

“This is a decision that was made to ensure all of our guests, team members, and our partners across Connecticut, especially in our local communities, remain safe,” Gessner added. “We are successful if the state is successful, and that’s true in all facets, like public health.”

As of 8 p.m. Monday, Connecticut had 41 coronavirus cases. Tougher new federal guidelines are designed to curb the spread of the possibly fatal illness.

Rhode Island, Massachusetts Close Casinos

The Connecticut closings come just a few days after officials in neighboring Rhode Island and Massachusetts chose to close casinos in those states.

On Saturday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission approved closing Encore Boston Harbor, as well as MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino, for two or more weeks.

On Friday, a similar decision was made to close the Twin River casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton, Rhode Island. The two casinos will close for one week.

Early this week, an increasing number of casinos were closing in different parts of the US. On Sunday night, both MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts closed Las Vegas operations. Several casino employees nationwide have tested positive for COVID-19.