Tribal casinos reopen despite state opposition

Some tribal casinos decided to reopen amid pandemic.
Some tribal casinos decided to reopen amid pandemic.

Some tribal nations in Connecticut, New York, Washington and Florida, went ahead with casino reopenings despite opposition from the states.

US.- Tribal casinos are reopening across the United States despite states’ opposition.

In Connecticut, governor Ned Lamont tried to convince tribal leaders not to reopen two of the world’s largest casinos, but the sovereign nations went ahead with plans to reopen on June 1, weeks ahead of the state’s timetable for large indoor events.

Mr. Lamont said: “People over the age of 65 should not be in large, congregate settings. We think that’s dangerous, even now. So we tried to put some good, strong advice in place as people are on their way to taking a gamble.”

Connecticut has two federally recognised tribes: the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe.

In line with these tribes, nations in Washington, Oregon, California, Florida, North Carolina, New York and elsewhere decided to welcome back gamblers despite their states not yet allowing large gatherings.

Andrew Cuomo, the New York governor, said: “Tribal nations are just that. They’re nations. So they are not bound by state laws.”

While New York state officials have not set a date for when commercial casinos would be allowed to reopen, the Oneida Indian Nation announced it would partly reopen three casinos, and the Cayuga Nation’s casino has been back in operation since May 15.

In Florida, the tribal Miccosukee Resort & Gaming casino reopened early. Miami’s mayor Carlos Gimenez urged residents to follow federal health guidelines if they decided to go and gamble.

For some states, such as Connecticut, the gambling business is vital for the economy. Connecticut receives 25 per cent of slot machine revenues generated at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.

Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, said he was surprised Mr. Lamont’s position was against their reopening. Both tribes encouraged the governor to view measures they had taken to prevent the spread of the virus, which included installing air filtration systems to barring gamblers from New York and Massachusetts.

Mr. Butler said: “I have tribal elders that I’m concerned about. And so I’m not going to put my community at risk. We’re doing this very, very cautiously and with every safety precaution in mind.”

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