It’s been a rough couple of months for casinos and gambling enthusiasts in the U.S., but things might finally be ready to get back on track – even if that track isn’t entirely the same as the old one. Casinos across the country are starting to reopen their doors, with Oklahoma showing more progressive stubbornness than most. A few casinos in the state began to accept gamblers a couple of weeks ago, there was no shortage of interest on the part of casino-goers, and other venues could only grit their teeth, waiting for a chance to join in on the fun. That day has now come, with 20 more casinos, all operated by the Chickasaw Nation, opening their doors as of yesterday.
Of course, just because the venues are open doesn’t mean that everything is returning back to normal. The casinos are only accepting about 25% of their normal capacity, and will be following established health and safety protocols until everyone can be confident that the coronavirus is no longer a real threat. In the meantime, though, casino employees will have to be prepared to submit to a daily superficial health checkup, and visitors will need to practice social distancing requirements.
In addition, they will also need to prepare to see other changes at the casinos. WinStar World Casino and Resort, for example, won’t be offering valet service for a while, and swimming pools are still off-limits. Any patron expecting to take advantage of the casino’s complimentary drink stations is going to be disappointed, as these are still out of service. The good news is, though, that the casino will offer free water and soft drinks at its bars. Additionally, table games, off-track gambling, bingo, poker and certain other amenities are still in the dark.
The governor of the Chickasaw Nation, Bill Anoatubby, explained as the native tribe was preparing to relaunch its gambling operations, “Our leadership team has developed a comprehensive plan with numerous levels of protection to protect the health of our employees and patrons. We continue closely monitoring the data and consulting health professionals in an effort to maintain the most effective containment measures available and minimize any possibility of resurgence.”
“No shoes, no shirt, no service” has long been a practice among public establishments across the U.S., as well as other parts of the world, for decades, but now is getting an amendment. “No masks” has been added, and anyone planning on visiting a casino, whether it be one of the many in Oklahoma or elsewhere across the country, is going to have to be willing to wear a mask. If not, they’ll be turned away at the door.
The Chickasaw tribe is one of several that has been battling Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt and his desire to squeeze more money out of existing tribal revenue-sharing agreements. The saga has been building since late last year and has seen a few twists and turns as it continues its soap opera-like advance. So far, not much real progress has been made, and the amount of revenue the tribes have lost due to the coronavirus will certainly make them even less willing to try to reach a new agreement.