Despite the coronavirus, Foxwoods is staying open for now
The casino, on tribal land, is not obligated to follow the state's ban on large groups
One of Connecticut’s largest tourist attractions, Foxwoods Resort Casino, announced Friday it would not close at this time due to the coronavirus.
But the casino president, John James, said large-crowd events have been canceled through March 23 and other precautions are being taken.
“We have asked any team members experiencing symptoms to stay home,” James wrote in a statement. “We have also established protocols for helping team members get medical attention, as well as guests, should they become ill while here.”
James added that “Foxwoods will remain open for business. … We continue to assess and to work with our local communities and state and federal officials, with health and safety as our top priority.”
Foxwoods has increased hand-sanitizing stations at the complex and created a new cleaning team to more frequently disinfect “all of the facility touch points,” James said. Many of the video slots and other electronic games at Foxwoods require patrons to activate the machine by touching a screen.
Foxwoods and the tribe’s other businesses attract more than 12.8 million visits per year, an average of 35,000 per day, according to a spokesperson.
The casino complex and other tribal enterprises employed more than 6,700 people, according to an economic impact study the Mashantucket Pequots released last August.
A task force has been created to meet daily and assess other precautionary measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and by the tribal chief medical officer and other health experts, James said.
The casino complex, run by the Mashantucket Pequot tribe in sovereign land near the borders of Ledyard and North Stonington, operates casino games, a convention center, hotels, restaurants, bars, retail stores and a concert hall.
It has never closed since the tribe first opened the casino in 1992.
Connecticut’s other tribal casino, Mohegan Sun, has not issued any definitive statement about operations during the public health crisis, though concert performers have cancelled some events.
Gov. Ned Lamont issued an order Thursday prohibiting events that draw more than 250 people, but casinos, located within sovereign tribal territory, don’t have to comply.
In an interview before the governor’s order, a senior official said the tribe and its casino operations were in constant contact with state and federal health officials.
“There are are daily phone calls. We’re in a good place in that we’re a government,” said Chuck Bunnell, the Mohegan tribe’s chief of staff. “We have a health department. We have a medical director. We have another, a consultant. Unlike a corporation, we already had open lines of communication.”
But a ban by the governor on large gatherings would not apply.
“We’d certainly take that under consideration, but we’re not obligated by it,” Bunnell said. “The state does not have jurisdiction here, but we work very closely together and have an agreement on communication.”