"Don't gamble with COVID": The reopening of casinos during a pandemic
Some tribes have opened their businesses despite warnings.
It took little for Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont to beg the tribal nations that run the Foxwoods Resort and Mohegan Sun casinos to not open their doors until COVID-19 pandemic was more under control, threatening to revoke their alcohol licenses, but they did it anyway.
At least he got the transport workers to put up signs on the road like the ones that now read: "Avoid the big crowds" and "Don't play with COVID."
"People over 65 should not be in large gathering places. We think that's dangerous, even now," Lamont told the AP after the partial reopening of the casinos on June 1, a few weeks before the state's scheduled date for allowing large indoor events.
"That's why we're trying to put out some good advice for people on their way to the gambling venues," the Democrat added.
The two Connecticut tribes that run these casinos, two of the largest in the country, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe, have not been the only ones to advance their reopening, although they are doing so with all sorts of security measures.
Native communities in Washington, Oregon, California, Florida, North Carolina, New York, and other states have also been in the throes of opening their doors to pay for the great economic crisis and gradually incorporating their workers, even though state regulations do not yet permit the same for cities.
The reason tribal casinos may reopen while other businesses are forced to comply with closure orders, as explained by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, is because the Constitution recognizes them as sovereign nations with full authority on their reservations, so no state or local government has greater authority than the tribe.
The Oneida Indian Nation in New York State announced that it would reopen three casinos last Wednesday, and the Cayuga Nation reopened its casino on May 15. While in California and Florida, both Democrat Gavin Newson and Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez made real efforts to convince tribal leaders that reopening their businesses could lead to further outbreaks of COVID.
Giménez went so far as to use social media to broadcast a video message after the reopening of the Miccosukee Resort & Gaming Casino last month and warned residents to be careful, especially the elderly. Despite the Miccosukee's resistance to the campaign, they eventually gave in to the pressure.
According to the AP, the American Gaming Association detected 280 tribal casinos in operation until last Tuesday, while 244 are still closed due to the threat of new infections. These figures, according to the deputy executive director of the National Indian Gaming Association, Danielle Her Many Horses, not only show the great variety of opinions among the tribes, but also their relationship with local and state governments.