Tribal Casinos Take Heat For Operating Despite COVID-19

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Article by : Helen Nov 9, 2020

Nowadays, COVID-19 has negatively impacted many businesses, and the gambling industry felt that too. There are many casino software suppliers and casino operators experiencing revenue drops, casino shut-downs, and other coronavirus consequences. Tribal Gaming also has hard times due to the pandemic-related restrictions.

While many American businesses remain closed due to the COVID, San Diego tribes have decided to ignore the recommendations from above and reopened their land-based venues. Even though all the Tribal casinos are trying hard to provide their customers with the safest gambling options in the country, there’s not so much you can do during the pandemic. As a result, Tribal casinos are now under fire because of pandemic-related problems. Despite the fact that Tribal casinos in San Diego were doing everything possible to ensure the safety of their employees and clients after reopening, over 300 local residents who have visited the gambling venues turned out to have contracted coronavirus.

Several experts have anonymously visited 7 out of 9 county’s gambling venues. They claim that the casinos are adhering to all coronavirus-related measures you expect to see at any casinos these days. The slot machines are distanced, some popular table games are unavailable, all visitors wear masks, and there are temperature checks at the entrance. Anyway, the experts managed to find several employees who fear for their health but keep working, as they need the money. Some of them complained that all those COVID-related measures were not being followed constantly. From time to time, the employees have to remind players to put on the masks, making the staff afraid of getting infected. “I cannot just let my job go because I’m scared,” said an employee of the Sycuan Casino Resort. “I’m scared, but I’m there. I need the money. If I don’t have a job, I can’t afford my house. Then I’ll be living on the streets with my kids.” Most casinos have fully reopened the indoor restaurants, where guests can pull down their masks while eating, drinking, or smoking.

Even worse, many employees at certain casinos complained that their management was not divulging information about the COVID cases related to their workspace. For example, the employees of the Harrah Resort claim that they get such information mainly through the rumor mill. The employees of the Sycuan Casino Resort are in luck, as they are getting reports with this data regularly so that they are always aware of the current situation of their workspace.

According to the official statistics, since the reopening of Tribal gambling venues in May, 112 workers and 196 customers have been tested positive for COVID-19 as of 5 October.

These cases also include 3 people who died. However, the public health officials claim that the fact that a person visited a casino doesn’t obligatory mean that he/she got infected there. The county is not going to reveal any information on whether any community outbreaks happened in local gambling venues. This automatically means that this data is out of a metric that is being considered by the county when making a decision on whether to reopen the local casinos or not.

In the letter to the officials, 8 of the gambling tribes said that they were sure they could provide all their employees and visitors with a safe environment and roll everything back if it’s needed. Moreover, they also reminded that gambling venues are an essential source of funding for various government operations that include education, healthcare, police, and other aspects. The California Nations Indian Gaming Association has published a report showing that Tribal casinos generated more than US$4 billion in economic spending in 2014. Plus, they gave jobs to over 24,000 people in Southern California.


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