Some Oklahoma casinos extend closures while others prepare to open this week

Coronavirus

EL RENO, Okla. (KFOR) – Several casinos across the state will now be closed at least through the end of May, but some tribes have decided to reopen earlier, citing low infection rates and armed with new protective technology.

Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe-owned Lucky Star Casinos are opening Friday morning at 10 a.m.

“Most of our casinos are located in western Oklahoma,” said Lucky Star Casinos COO Andy Rednose. “A lot of our counties have very few if no cases in the counties.”

Rednose said that’s played a large role in deciding whether and when to reopen. For the past two months they’ve been discussing what measures to take when the day finally comes.

“We want to set the example basically on how to operate a casino under these conditions,” he said. 

Starting Friday, the moment a guest or employee walks inside the building, their temperature will be checked manually, by new thermal imaging cameras, or both.

“A very big expense that we feel is necessary to keep all our customers safe,” Rednose said.

When a guest sits at a machine, the two on either side will disable, and when they get up, the machine will alert the staff who will come clean it before it’s used again.

Table games will be closed for the time-being. Plexiglass shields have been set up at locations where staff contact customers, and guests will be provided with masks and gloves if they want to join the staff in wearing protective equipment.

Leadership will continue to monitor numbers daily, and Rednose said they won’t hesitate to shut the doors if infection rates become dangerous. He said all of the policies in place are fluid and can be changed.

“That’s the number one priority, is to get our employees back to work and our customers to walk in and feel safe,” Rednose said.

On Wednesday, Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby announced the tribe’s offices and casinos will remain closed at least through May 29. They have not yet set a date to reopen.

In a statement, the governor said,

“We are extending these closures as part of our continuing efforts to protect the health and safety of our employees and guests. Many of our employees will continue working from home and we will continue to compensate employees whose positions are inactive as a result of the pandemic. 
As we develop plans for a phased reopening of our operations, the health and safety of our employees and patrons remain our highest priorities. With that in mind, we are evaluating and enhancing our operational policies and protocols to enable us to reopen our operations as safely as possible.
While we are contemplating a reopening date, no decision has yet been made. When we begin reopening, we plan to implement extensive employee testing and contact tracing to help contain any resurgence of the virus.
Our leadership team will continue to closely monitor the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines as well as public health advancements and advisories from government entities. We will make appropriate changes and updates to our protocols and procedures as necessary.”

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