Four Winds Casinos in Michigan, Indiana Reopen Monday After COVID-19 Plan Set

Posted on: June 9, 2020, 05:11h. 

Last updated on: June 9, 2020, 10:25h.

The Pokagon Gaming Authority announced Monday that its Four Winds Casinos will reopen in a week. That’s after the Pokagon Gaming Commission approved the casinos’ reopening plan earlier in the day.

Four Winds reopen
The Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo, Mich., is one of four casinos the Pokagon Gaming Authority expects to open next Monday. (Image: Pokagon Fund)

The authority operates Four Winds casinos in New Buffalo, Mich.; Hartford, Mich.; Dowagiac, Mich.; and South Bend, Ind. According to an authority release, the casinos plan to open next Monday at noon.

Four Winds closed its casinos because of the coronavirus pandemic on March 17, a day after Michigan and Indiana ordered its state-licensed casinos to close. The tribe furloughed most of its workforce in April.

The reopening of our casinos comes at a critical time for our Tribe and our employees that are in need of economic relief,” said Matthew Wesaw, tribal council chairman and CEO of the Pokagon Gaming Authority, in a statement. “Unlike state and local governments, which predominately use tax dollars to operate, the Pokagon Band is a Sovereign Native American Government which relies on revenue from its business ventures to fund critical services and programs for our citizens, including healthcare, housing, education, family services, financial support, elder care, police, courts, and more.”

Still, despite not being beholden to state regulations, tribal officials also took into account recommendations from the governors of both states and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before moving offering the June 15 reopening plan to the commission.

Masks Required Per Four Winds Plan

The plan approved by the commission does not specify a certain reduced capacity level for the casinos. But the Four Winds release does note that the number of available slot machines will be reduced. Some chairs and games have been removed from the floor, and some of the casinos’ more popular slot games will have plexiglass dividers to protect patrons.

Table games, where offered, will also feature fewer chairs.

Each guest must wear a mask and consent to having their temperature taken by a touchless thermometer. Dining options will be limited, as buffets will be closed. While one-time use menus will be available, Four Winds will also take advantage of QR codes to allow guests to retrieve menus using their phones.

Valet and shuttle service will not be offered for the time being.

All Four Winds employees will don masks, and an employee will be stationed at each self-serve beverage station on the casino floor. Other staffers will work as part of cleaning teams to focus on addressing high traffic areas more often throughout the day.

Frank Freedman, Four Winds COO, said in a statement he hopes the casinos can open all amenities in the near future.

“As the health and safety of our guests and employees has been and continues to remain our top priority, we will be opening with some changes to our amenities and services,” he said. “With these changes, we will continue to exceed expectations and provide excellent customer service that the Four Winds Casinos are known for.”

The complete list of safety protocols can be found at the Four Winds website.

Four Winds to Open with Indiana Casinos

Four Winds’ planned opening for Monday puts it on the same schedule as Indiana’s state-licensed casinos, which may begin reopening on that day. Michigan has not yet announced when the Detroit casinos may reopen, but other tribal properties began reopening late last month.

As of Monday morning, more than 55 percent of the tribal and commercial casinos in the US have reopened.

Thanks to Nevada’s reopening late last week, the number of commercial casinos that have opened surpassed tribal. Currently, 282 of the 465 state-licensed casinos have reopened, compared to 268 of the 524 tribal venues.