Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler (left) and Mohegan Tribal Chairman James Gessner are openly engaging with the State of Connecticut about Foxwoods’ and Mohegan Sun’s vigilant safety measures and protocols in place for their June 1 reopenings.
The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes jointly announced Wednesday that they plan to reopen their casinos June 1, a date that Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont says is too soon. Meanwhile, Gov. Lamont has initiated the reopening of nonessential businesses throughout Connecticut. Restaurants are able to provide outside dining, and various retail businesses and offices are permitted to operate at half-capacity. Phase three of resuming “normal” operations comes in late July, when large indoor facilities throughout the state can welcome visitors again.
Two of the country’s most renowned Tribal casino destinations, Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun, have been closed since March 17 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Amid closures, the Tribes are hemorrhaging money. “It’s costing us a couple of million a week just to stay closed,” Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler previously said.
As sovereign nations operating casinos on federal trust land, the Tribes are not bound by state law.
Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun will reopen in phases with rigorous safety guidelines in place; the baseline entails masks and social distancing.
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and Mohegan Tribe are adhering to the state’s request for details of their reopening plans and methods in place “to protect the health and safety of people working at and patronizing the Tribal casinos and all related enterprises.”
Butler said the the Mashantucket gaming commission is offering to sit down with state officials “to share our thorough policies and protocols for the approaching re-opening and hear their feedback, which is consistent with the cooperation between MPTN (Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation) and the State as called for in our gaming compact.”
“We look forward to discussions that demonstrate how Foxwoods’ plans place the highest priority on guest and employee health and safety in connection with the re-opening,” Butler said. “We are also inviting them to tour our facility next week for a firsthand look at our efforts.”
Mohegan Chief of Staff Chuck Bunnell commented: “We have received correspondence from the state and will respond officially to the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. The Mohegan Tribe offered as early as April to be a resource to the state during this pandemic and have shared our reopening plans with them on multiple occasions beginning in early May.”
As James Gessner, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe, told NBC, Mohegan Sun has worked alongside medical professionals and the National Guard to develop their phase one reopening plan, taking into account the risk of an outbreak. “I think that is on everybody’s mind as far as, no one wants to see that happen,” said Gessner. “We will monitor with all the numbers and the doctors that we are working with and our health officials. They will constantly be monitoring those things and advising us on a daily basis.”