California Casinos Reopens As Stay-at-home Restrictions Eases
Casinos reopen despite COVID 19 threat
Jeff L. Grubbe, tribal chairman for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, said that it is a tough decision to open. The tribe opened the casinos in Rancho Mirage and Palm Springs.
The tribal chairman told that everyone wanted to make sure that as tribes open, it wasn’t business as usual. They want to reopen a casino that looks much different than when they closed.
Agua Caliente casinos ensured that the guest’s and employees’ temperature were checked before entry. Visitors and crew of the casinos are required to wear face coverings and are prohibited from smoking inside the gambling venue.
According to Mr. Grubbe, the casinos limited guests to about 1,000 people in Rancho Mirage casino, a 45,000-square-foot property, and around 700 in Palm Spring to ensure social distancing. The figures are almost half of the total capacity the casinos can accommodate.
Mr. Grubbe said it costs a ton of money for some of the measures, and it’s worth it because you can’t put a price on someone getting sick. By late Friday, hundreds of guests enlisted to go back to the Rancho Mirage casino because of the measures. The tribal chairman said that it was a little tougher to convince some of the employees.
He said that they wanted to know what safety protocols the company have in place. Mr. Grubbe understands that they can’t open up the casinos if they can’t do anything to mitigate their safety. The company made sure that they have an abundant security cleaning crew on the casino floor.
There are around 3,000 people who are members of the tribe or on its payroll. The reopening of the casinos is a vital financial lifeline for the tribe.
Access to Congress’ $8 billion financial assistance
Congress allocated $8 billion in financial assistance for tribal governments through the CARES Act.
The funding is available for the 109 federally registered tribes in California. However, smaller tribes are pushed back from accessing financial assistance.
Mr. Grubbe said that they need to do what is best for them and take control of their destiny for their people and their employees. He believed that things about COVID are going better, like the number of cases and deaths. He said that the time is right to open the casinos since they take it slowly with all safety precautions ahead.
Simon Farmer, executive director of marketing for Morongo, said that other casinos are placing their bets on the reopening. They implemented COVID-19 preventive measures like temperature checking, the mandatory wearing of face masks, installing protective shields between slot machines and gaming tables.
The farmer said it is now up to casino operators to show everybody that they can operate safely and comfortably since they understand that certain guests may be a bit more apprehensive about coming back to a casino.
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