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2 Tribal Casinos In Connecticut Roll The Dice And Reopen

Photo caption:

Photo by Mary Altaffer AP

A hand sanitizing wipe station is seen next to the slot machines at the Mohegan Sun casino on May 21. Connecticut's two federally recognized tribes said they're planning to reopen parts of their casinos on June 1, despite Gov. Ned Lamont saying it's too early and dangerous.

Tribal casinos in Connecticut reopening on Monday in defiance of state leadership. They are the latest to make that decision.

Two weeks ago, Viejas Casino & Resort in Alpine, Calif., was part of a wave of tribal gaming facilities to resume operations in that state even after Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote a letter trying to dissuade them.

Now, Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun are touting "limited" re-openings despite Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont saying he thinks it's too early for them to do so.

"I think the idea of opening up on June 1 is early," Lamont said. "It's earlier than Las Vegas, it's earlier than any of our regional casinos want to do. I'd like to have more time."

Officials at Foxwoods were confident ahead of the June 1 reopening, particularly because the tribe's safety plan calls for 25% occupancy across the casino's more than 9 million square feet.

"We feel like we've put forward a plan to mitigate the risk," said Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot tribal nation, the tribe that runs Foxwoods. "Don't go with the perception of what casinos were. Let's focus on what we're doing, and you have to come and see it."

Foxwoods patrons will have their temperatures checked at the door and will be required to wear masks. Ten miles west of Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun is instituting similar safety guidelines. Also, players at table games will be separated by plexiglass. Dice will reportedly be disinfected after each roll.

The Connecticut gaming facilities are the first to reopen in a part of the country hit hard by the coronavirus. More than 3,800 state residents have died from COVID-19. In addition to the Connecticut and California reopenings, the Detroit Free Press reports that several tribal casinos in Michigan are following suit.

Copyright 2020 Connecticut Public Radio. To see more, visit Connecticut Public Radio.

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