Tribal Casinos Reopen in Oklahoma, Tonkawa Adopts Safety Plan from Wynn Resorts

Posted on: May 9, 2020, 01:54h. 

Last updated on: May 10, 2020, 10:55h.

A handful of tribal casinos reopened this week in Oklahoma with safeguards in place to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission. Among the properties now operating is the Tonkawa Casino and Hotel.

Oklahoma Casino Reopens
Osage Casino Hotel CEO Byron Bighorse says the Oklahoma venue is reopening using a phased-in approach. (Image: Tulsa World/Tom Gilbert)

Tonkawa is basing its safety guidelines on a plan developed by Wynn Resorts. Guests get temperature checks and must wear face masks, which are provided by the casino.

Upon entering the venue, security officers take noninvasive temperature checks using thermal cameras. Employees or guests with a temperature over 100 degrees will not be allowed into the property.

They will be directed toward appropriate medical care. Tonkawa is also limiting its capacity to no more than 300 players at one time.

All guests wishing to gamble will briefly lower masks. That way security officers can check for age and identification.

“We are closely monitoring government policy changes, Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] (CDC) guidelines, government mandates, and public health advancements, and will continue to make changes as necessary or appropriate to our protocols and procedures,” the casino said in an online statement.

The reopening safeguards at the casino are “very similar” to a safety program developed by Wynn Resorts, the Oklahoma venue said. The plan was revised to fit operations at the Tonkawa casino.

Social Distancing, Sanitizing

“Our goal is to have strict safety measures that include: social distancing, masks, sanitizing of the facilities, and temperature scans at every entrance. We rely on the best available information and science regarding sanitization methods in consultation with professional infectious disease experts from the best academic institutions in the country,” the Tonkawa casino added in the statement.

Casino guests must stand at least six feet apart from other groups of people. Restaurant tables and slot machines were rearranged to ensure appropriate distancing and separation.

The number of chairs at table games was reduced. There is separation between tables.

Hand sanitizer dispensers were placed throughout the property. Also, workers were told how to respond to suspected cases of COVID-19.

They are instructed to contact a manager if they notice a coworker or guest with a cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19. Employees were also told to stay home if they do not feel well.

Every employee is provided a mask and required to wear it while on the property. Some employees will also wear gloves.

The frequency of cleaning and sanitizing will be increased in public spaces, such as on the gaming floor. Frequently contacted surfaces will get extra cleaning.

The gaming property is operated by the Tonkawa Tribe of Oklahoma. Those guests who stay in the casino’s hotel have guaranteed entry to the gaming floor.

Also, 7 Clans First Council Casino reopened the First Council Casino in Newkirk. It is open between 2 p.m. and 2 a.m. daily. Table games are closed.

7 Clans Casinos are owned and operated by the Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians. The tribe’s Chilocco Casino is open the same hours. The Red Rock, Perry, and Paradise Casino are closed.

Phased Reopening at Osage Casino

In addition, on Friday, the Osage Casino in Ponca City reopened. Table games were closed.

When asked about the reopening process, Osage Casino Hotel CEO Byron Bighorse told television station KTUL, “Everybody’s really unsure on how to do this.

That’s why we wanted this phase approach to kind of understand what it’s going to look like. I think everybody else is kind of watching to make sure we’re doing the right thing the right way,” Bighorse said.

The casino added in a statement quoted by the Stillwater News Press that the venue “will do everything possible to enforce [that] patrons practice social distancing, including respecting personal space of at least 6 feet while in our casinos, minimizing or avoiding any unnecessary contact between guests and Osage team members, restricting groups to 10 people or less, and encouraging guests to wear personal protective gloves and/or masks.”

Osage Casinos also recommend guests who are 65 and older do not enter the property. The casino will let in only 1,500 guests at a time, KTUL said.

Elsewhere, other tribal casinos are also reopening this month. Washington State’s Northern Quest Resort & Casino reopened its gaming floor to players earlier this week.

Tribal casinos will also reopen restaurants at gaming properties.