Washington State Tribes Eager to Reopen Casinos, Governor To Extend Stay-at-Home Order

Posted on: April 30, 2020, 06:42h. 

Last updated on: April 30, 2020, 08:53h.

Several Washington state tribal gaming venues may try to reopen soon after shuttering for several weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic. One of these, Angel of The Winds Casino Resort in Arlington, may resume its operations as early as Monday.

Angels of the Winds Casino Reopening
Washington state’s Angel of The Winds Casino Resort could reopen as soon as Monday, but continues to monitor health data. (Image: Hospitality Online)

The Stillaguamish Tribe gaming property also plans to become completely smoke-free when it reopens, according to a Facebook post. The tribe said it was “thrilled” about the smoke-free initiative and is waiting to reopen the gaming venue.

“All tribal casinos in Washington voluntarily closed shortly after Governor [Jay] Inslee issued his stay-at-home order,” Heather Songer, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Gambling Commission, told Casino.org on Wednesday. The governor’s edict closing non-essential businesses was released on March 23.

It was initially extended on April 2, and the stay-at-home order will apparently remain in effect beyond Monday. But the governor has yet to say for how long or to provide details about a possible phased-in reopening of businesses. Some new information could possibly be released on Friday, KIRO reported.

We are aware that some tribal casinos are considering re-opening soon,” Songer said in response to news about Angel of The Winds’ possible reopening on Monday. “We are working with tribes on a checklist to be completed as operations start back up.”

Angel of The Winds said in a Facebook post the “target” date for reopening is May 4, but added, “We will persistently assess our opening date as any new information is released.”

Tribe Monitors Washington State Health Data

“We will continue to closely monitor all available facts and updates regarding COVID-19,” the tribe said in the post. “We are all in this together and when the time is right, Angel Of The Winds Casino Resort will be delighted to welcome each and every one of our guests back to the property….”

The number of COVID-19 deaths in Washington state this week was at least 801. There were 14,070 coronavirus cases in the state as of Wednesday, according to data from the Washington state Department of Health.

The state’s gaming commission is working with tribal casino management as they plan to reopen casinos.

Like most industries, we expect to see increased use of protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, at casinos,” Heather Songer explained. “This will be an adjustment for casino security, but we are assisting tribal gaming agencies as they adjust to this new practice.”

Safety is a top concern for Angel of The Winds staff as they consider a reopening. “We will continue to make the necessary strides to ensure the safety of our guests, Team Members, the Stillaguamish Tribe, and our community,” the tribe said in the Facebook post.

“These have been more than trying times for our region, state, and nation,” the tribe added. Tribes nationwide are experiencing a financial burden while casinos and other enterprises remain closed.

When reached for comment on the smoke-free initiative at Angel of The Winds, Cathy Callaway, director of state and local campaigns for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, told Casino.org that “During a time when we are all in close quarters with loved ones, it is vital to protect people from exposure to secondhand smoke and e-cigarette aerosol.

“The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network supports 100% smoke-free workplaces that protect workers and patrons from the harms of secondhand smoke, including e-cigarette aerosol. According to the Surgeon General, there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure which poses risk to both users and nonusers,” she added.

Idaho Tribal Casino Reopens Friday

Elsewhere, the Coeur d’Alene tribal gaming property in Idaho will reopen to the public on May 1, according to the casino’s website. It will reopen in phases.

Reopening of the gaming venue starts the gradual process nationwide of casinos resuming operations following COVID-19 closures. Most tribal casinos remain shuttered, but some could reopen as soon as May if health conditions allow.

Health and safety precautions will be in place at Coeur d’Alene to limit the risk of transmitting coronavirus as gaming there resumes. That includes everyone on the property needing face masks or coverings.

Players and other guests should come with their own masks. The casino will have only limited facial coverings.

The casino will also implement strict social distancing. There will be beefed-up cleaning on the gaming floor, too, according to television station KHQ.

Among the other safety protocols in place will be having every other gaming machine turned off. Additionally, there will be limited seating in casino lounges or restaurants.

Plexiglass barriers were already installed. The casino will be closed between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. daily so crews can deep clean the interior.