When the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced its new state order that included the closure of Detroit’s three commercial casinos, Michigan’s tribal casinos had to make decisions regarding their own status.
Tribal casinos are not required to follow the state-ordered shutdown and can decide whether to remain open or to close. They were considering what to do this week.
To this point, only tribal casinos in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula have decided to follow the state’s order and shut down. Bay Mills Resort and Casino in Brimley was the first to close, and now Kewadin Casinos has followed suit. All five of Kewadin’s locations closed on Wednesday and will reopen on Dec. 9.
Kewadin has casinos located throughout the Upper Peninsula in Christmas, Hessel, Manistique, St. Ignace and Sault Ste. Marie.
“In a continued effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID19) throughout Michigan, and with regard to the recent announcement by Gov. Whitmer, Kewadin Casinos will be voluntarily closing all five Kewadin Casinos for three weeks,” Kewadin Casinos posted on each of the Facebook pages for its locations. “Kewadin Casinos will continue to follow all health and sanitation guidelines in place as well as the current phase chart which outlines restrictions based on positivity rates in each county. Thank you for your understanding during this time.”
Other UP Casinos make changes
Island Resort and Casino in Harris announced it will be closing Club Four One entertainment, which includes live bands and comedy, until Dec. 10. The restaurants at the Island will now operate solely on a take-out basis.
Table games are now shut down at the Ojibwa Casinos in Marquette and Baraga.
Northern Waters Casino Resort in Watersmeet announced on its Facebook page it will remain open.
“Currently, Northern Waters Casino Resort remains open and operating under the established and approved health and safety protocols of the Tribe,” the post said. “Please be sure to familiarize yourself with our requirements and restrictions before visiting.”
Little River Casino staying open
For the casinos that have decided to remain open, new safety measures have been put in place in hopes of making their guests feel safe. Little River Casino in Manistee recently stated it will remain open and detailed the new safety initiatives it is installing.
“The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is committed to doing their part in preventing the spread of COVID-19,” the casino said on its website. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, Little River Casino Resort, under the guidance of the Tribe, has taken numerous steps to protect team members, tribal members and the community, including voluntarily shutting down in March 2020.
“The Resort proactively developed a detailed Health and Safety Plan that not only meets, but exceeds guidelines issued by the CDC. The plan details what the Resort does to keep guests, team members, and communities safe during their time at the casino.”
On Wednesday, Little River Casino put forth these protocols:
- Hours of operations will be reduced to 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week through at least Dec. 8.
- Occupancy of the building will be limited to 25% capacity.
- The Rapids Bistro will be open for to-go orders.
- The River Rock Sportsbook & Grill restaurant/dining will close.
- Sports betting will be available.
- All table games will be closed through at least Dec. 8.
- Every other slot machine will be turned off.
- Properly worn masks and temperature checks will still be required of all guests and team members.
- Only guests 18 or older will be permitted in the building.
- Smoking is still banned except in designated areas off the gaming floor.
- To further limit contact in common areas, self-service beverage stations are staffed with team members who will serve guests their drink requests.