Tribal Casinos Are Open, But The Coronavirus Problems Aren’t A Closed Case

Posted on September 4, 2020

The reopening of Michigan tribal casinos did not necessarily mean they were out of the woods.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact many of the casinos across Michigan, including a flurry of news items this week.

Twenty-two of Michigan’s 23 tribal casinos have reopened after closing this spring because of the coronavirus. All of them opened before Detroit’s three commercial casinos were allowed to open last month.

Many of the tribal casinos are now opening sportsbooks with hopes that new revenue gained there can help offset losses suffered while the casinos were closed this year.

Island Resort & Casino plans to open at BetAmerica Sportsbook on Sept. 10. \William Hill retail sportsbook at Turtle Creek Casino near Traverse City and a sportsbook at Odawa Casino in Petoskey should be opening very soon as well.

Three Little River Casino visitors tested positive

Little River Casino Resort announced Wednesday that three people recently on the property later tested positive.

The Manistee casino said the individuals were at the casino on Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday. Their stays were about eight hours or slightly more.

Though the announcement did not explicitly say the people were employees, the notice said:

  • Team members with a positive result are required to self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days and be asymptomatic for 24 hours before returning.
  • All team members identified in close contact through contact tracing are notified immediately and then required to self-quarantine and remain off property until a negative test result is received.

The individuals were at Little River from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Friday, from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, and 6:20 a.m. until 2:40 p.m. Tuesday.

Little River banned certain face coverings

Last week, the Manistee casino updated its face-covering requirements.

Little River announced that bandanas, gaiters, and masks with valves would no longer be acceptable.

According to the notice, “these types of face coverings allow unfiltered, exhaled air and respiratory droplets to escape more easily.”

Also in northern Michigan, Turtle Creek made a coronavirus-related update of its own.

Beginning Monday, the casino banned smoking inside, a measure already in place at its sister casino, Leelanau Sands in Peshawbestown.

Northern Waters Casino shut down for over a week

Across the Mackinac Bridge in Watersmeet, Northern Waters Casino Resort closed for a little more than a week last month as COVID-19 cases spiked near the Wisconsin border.

This week in the eastern U.P., another COVID-related closure turned out to be a false alarm.

In a now-deleted social media post from Thursday morning, Bay Mills Casino announced table games would be closed temporarily. But in an email to PlayMichigan, Bay Mills Indian Community Chairman Bryan Newland wrote there was an internal communications mixup.

Newland said there was not a positive case at the casino.

The BMIC reopened Bay Mills Casino in June, though its sister casino, Kings Club Casino, remains closed because of COVID concerns.

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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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