‘Don’t Gamble with COVID,’ Connecticut Warns Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun Travelers
Posted on: June 1, 2020, 05:00h.
Last updated on: June 1, 2020, 03:38h.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) was no fan of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods reopening their casinos on Monday, June 1. The state placed warning signs on roadways near the resorts warning potential gamblers about visiting the properties.
Owned and operated by the Mohegan Tribe and Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation on their sovereign lands, the two Native American groups are not required under their federal recognition to abide by state orders. They didn’t over the weekend, first opening to select guests by invitation only, and today to the general public.
“I wasn’t happy about it,” Lamont said this morning on WNPR. “I thought we should have waited until late June, like our neighbors.”
While commercial casinos do remain closed in neighboring New York and Massachusetts, Rhode Island’s two venues are set to reopen June 8.
Lamont’s relationship with the two Connecticut tribes has deteriorated.
The governor lifted his stay-at-home order on May 20, but restrictions remain in place. Lamont says indoor gatherings should be limited to 10 people. Foxwood and Mohegan Sun are limiting capacity, but will, of course, far exceed the governor’s cap on commercial businesses.
In response to the tribes’ dismissal of Lamont’s requests to remain closed, the state set up road signs along routes 2 and 32 near the two tribal casino complexes cautioning guests about the potential dangers of such an environment.
DON’T GAMBLE W/COVID,” read the highway alert. “AVOID LG. INDOOR GATHERINGS.”
The signs were deployed today, as the casinos welcomed back the general public. Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, said more than 1,000 people had made their way inside Foxwoods by midday on Monday.
Lamont said the electronic road warnings “reminds people of the risk they’re taking. I want that to be clear to anybody that’s thinking about going to the casino.”
Butler said he understands Lamont’s apprehension, and even found the road signs “catchy.”
“All in, when you think about everything that we were talking about, between he [Lamont] and I and the Mohegans, I think he really did a great job in managing the situation, all things considered,” Butler said. “There was a lot of pressure for him to do things that were a little bit more aggressive.”
With 42,201 coronavirus cases, Connecticut ranks No. 13 in the United States. New York is No. 1 (376,520), Massachusetts No. 5 (96,965), and Rhode Island No. 27 (14,991).
Per 100,000 people, however, New York ranks No. 1, Rhode Island No. 3, Massachusetts No. 4, and Connecticut No. 5.
Safety Measures in Place
Guests and employees are required to wear face coverings at both Connecticut casinos. Numerous other health and safety precautions have been implemented, including body temperature checks at entrance points, social distancing protocols, increased cleaning schedules, and hand sanitization stations.
Foxwoods Interim CEO and SVP of Resort Operations said the casino is “in a unique position, given the size of our physical space and our geographical location, to allow for social distancing within our resort.”
Mohegan Sun said in a statement, “Our number one priority is the safety and well-being of all guests … as well as the health of all our passionate and dedicated team members.”