The Connecticut-based Foxwoods Resort Casino has invested more than $1 million in renovations to ensure the safety of its customers as they return to the slot machines and craps tables after months of inactivity spurred by COVID-19.
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Despite state opposition, Foxwoods resumed its 24/7 operations on June 1, following a limited reopening on May 21 authorized by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, which owns and operates the resort.
Facing pressure to bring back employees and start generating revenue, the Mashantucket Pequot nation and the Mohegan Tribe, which owns and operates Connecticut-based Mohegan Sun, both reopened early, despite pleas from Gov. Ned Lamont not to do so.
Despite having authority to shutter thousands of businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, Lamont's hands were tied when it came to when dealing with the sovereign tribal nations that own two of the world’s largest casinos.
Both developed plans to ensure that resuming business would be safe, just as casinos in Las Vegas did when they began allowing customers back earlier this month.
"The experience will look and feel very different," Foxwood cautioned.
Here's a look at what to expect:
-- Upon entering, guests will be required to undergo non-invasive temperature checks with thermal cameras. Those with temperatures of over 100.4 degrees will not be allowed inside.
"If you are not feeling well or in an “at-risk” category, please stay home and put your health and safety first," the casino cautioned.
-- Capacity will be limited to 25 percent of normal to allow for social distancing, and masks will be required for employees and guests. Staff will provide masks to guests who arrive without them.
-- Waiting areas and lines will be marked to make sure appropriate physical distancing standards are followed.
-- Hand-sanitizing stations and sanitizing wipes will be provided throughout the property, including in gaming areas, so guests can wipe down machines.
-- Staff will frequently clean and disinfect high-touch areas including elevators, slot machines, and counters. Additionally, misters will be utilized overnight to sanitize all touchpoints.
-- Plexiglas partitions will be placed at all transactional locations, including areas such as hotel check-in and retail shops.
-- Table games will include plexiglass barriers. Additionally, every other slot machine has been turned off and betting spaces will be limited to three people per table to help with social distancing. The casino's poker and bingo rooms will be closed until further notice.
-- Food service will be available for pick up/carry out or grab-and-go, and some sit-down dining is available. Tables where that service is provided will be spaced to adhere to proper social-distancing protocols.
-- Signage will be added across the property reminding customers of health guidelines such as frequent hand-washing and using hand sanitizer.
-- No spa and gym facilities will be open until permitted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The nightclub will remain closed.
Connecticut’s two federally recognized tribes are not alone in reopening doors early as the nation reemerges from a virtual shutdown to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tribes in Washington, Oregon, California, Florida, North Carolina, New York and elsewhere have decided to welcome back gamblers even though their states haven’t allowed large gatherings.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.