Pandemic Continues, Tribal Casinos Reduce Capacity
Although the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is in sight, the numbers continue to rise. As a response, tribal casinos have elected to remain open and implement a range of safety protocols.
Coronavirus Numbers Continue to Rise
All across the world today, the pandemic numbers continue to rise due to a combination of new variant mutations and the winter weather naturally increasing the proliferation of such a disease. Washington is not immune to the rising cases of the global pestilence, and tribal governments have been keen to stress both how seriously they take the situation and the countermeasures that have been enacted to reduce the risk.
In addition to seasonal changes, a negative development that continues to drive up cases in more and more countries is the new mutations that appear to make the virus more infectious.
Increasing Casino Safety
Taking account of the situation, tribal casinos in Washington have implemented safety measures to help protect members of staff, visiting guests, and local communities. For the time being, such betting establishments are remaining open, but are operating at a reduced capacity to make social distancing easier to follow, and thereby cutting the risk.
While tribal casinos are vital for generating funds used to provide healthcare, education, and other essential government spending, a compromise between outright closures (which would also reduce the available money for combating COVID-19) and business as usual (which would entail an unacceptable degree of risk to health) is deemed to be the most prudent approach.
Fears over playing in person and the lockdowns have helped drive player interest in online casinos to new highs. With welcome promos at Miami Club Casinos</a> many players have, at least temporarily, shifted to taking advantage of online bonuses and visiting internet casinos rather than real-world establishments.
Each tribe is operating its own independent set of policies on specific steps to take to try and reduce COVID-19 cases. In addition to reduced capacity, mask-wearing is a common requirement aimed at cutting infection risks (a particular problem with this disease as the symptoms can vary all the way from fatally severe to none whatsoever).
Casino ventilation has been increased to try and diminish the extra risk of being indoors, with extra cleaning enacted on a similar basis. Dining practices have been updated likewise, and members of staff are routinely checked to ensure they are not suffering high temperatures (one of the main symptoms of the disease).
The Decision to Stay Open
Closures did occur during the initial arrival of COVID-19, in March 2020, when there was a greater degree of uncertainty regarding how the disease was spread and the risks incurred by various activities and behaviors.
State-wide, Washington cases are increasing significantly but no spikes have been associated with tribal casinos. The tribes have indicated they will continue to modify their policies in accordance with the situation as it changes.
The combination of more free time and less to do in the real world has seen many casino players shift to online establishments, some with extensive slots ranges, others with quick payouts and all with convenient access and no risk of catching COVID-19.
Challenging Times for Casinos
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a huge challenge across the board, from healthcare to education, provision of public services to private enterprise. Some sectors have fared better than others, particularly those that function smoothly with remote working.
For brick and mortar casinos, however, it’s been a particularly challenging time. Hundreds of tribal casinos closed during the summer months, leading to job losses across rural America. With resources stretched, a combination of job cuts and rising healthcare needs made it a difficult time for the tribes. While casino closures at the time were considered necessary, it undoubtedly led to reduced revenue and (financially) impeded the capacity of tribes to fight back against the pandemic.
Thousands of jobs were lost across the country, from Michigan and Indiana when sites owned by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians closed, to Connecticut when the same happened with the Mashantucket Pequot Nation. It’s worth noting this wasn’t only a tribal situation, the majority (seven out of 10) of workers in tribal casinos are non-Native American. In common with other sectors, casino workers losing jobs simply compounds the healthcare crisis. Just as governments lose funding due to decreased revenues, individuals have been struggling a lot with the stress of trying to make ends meet when for some people work has vanished.
Vaccines versus Mutations
Entering 2021, developments regarding the pandemic are both positive and negative. The latter days of 2020 saw a number of new mutations that appear to significantly increase the chances of infection but, at the same time, effective vaccines from multiple different sources are coming on stream, with the United States the leading major Western nation by total shots (at the time of writing).
This does make the situation going forward somewhat uncertain, but with room for optimism. Rolling out vaccines will take time, yet the prospect of hope will be a great relief to many people. So far, it seems the new mutations are still neutered by the vaccines, and as long as that remains the case it’s simply a matter of letting the vaccinations do their work. The pandemic has turned the world upside down, but help is on the way.
Things have been tough all round with the COVID-19 global pandemic. The world isn’t out of it yet, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.