Little Creek, Red Wind casinos plan to reopen Monday
Two Olympia area casinos — Little Creek Casino Resort near Shelton and Nisqually Red Wind Casino — have reopened following closures that began in mid-March because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The reopenings come with long lists of policies and precautions that will be introduced in an effort to safeguard visitors.
Thurston County’s other casino, the Chehalis Tribe’s Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel, has indicated it won’t consider reopening to the public until next month. But the Puyallup Tribe announced Thursday it, too, will reopen its Emerald Queen Casino in Fife as of yesterday, the Tacoma News Tribune reports.
Little Creek and Red Wind both will be 100% smoke-free, according to their online announcements. Visitors will have their IDs and temperatures checked, and each guest will be required to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth.
Half of the slot machines have been removed at Little Creek and capacity will be at 50%, while half of Red Wind’s slot machines have been turned off, according to its announcement. Protocols to extensively, frequently sanitize are in place at both locations.
Voluntary casino closures have hurt tribal economies across the state and nation. With the Kalispel Tribe’s Northern Quest Casino near Spokane closed for two months, it cost the tribe millions of dollars, according to an Associated Press report. And the Puyallup Tribe has told members it has just enough money to fund benefits and services through the end of next month.
Still, reopening casinos at this point in the pandemic isn’t something state leadership advises. As of Friday, nine Washington counties had been approved to move to Phase 2 out of four phases in Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening plan, but most of the state is scheduled to remain in Phase 1 until at least June 1.
If casinos were not on tribal lands, they would likely be included in Phase 3 of the plan, Tara Lee, a spokesperson with the governor’s office, wrote in an email to The Olympian. That phase includes some other indoor entertainment, such as gyms, movie theaters, and museums.