The state’s new epidemic order is in effect, shutting down indoor dining and businesses where people gather for three weeks. But if you’re ready to roll the dice, most of Michigan’s tribal casinos are staying open.

“Our gaming operations are part of an economic development that pretty much funds 95 percent of the essential services that we provide to our tribal membership,” said Frank Cloutier, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe Public Information Officer.

Cloutier explained why casinos on land owned by the tribe are staying open. He said he’s looking at the science, and what tribal leaders have found is that their casinos are safe.

“Every case that we’ve had to experience here is not a case that originated within the workplace,” Cloutier explained.

He credits that to a series of safety protocols that are in place and the willingness to enforce them. Everyone who visits the casino must wear a mask or they’ll be asked to leave. And that’s not all.

“There’s only about 60 percent of our floor that’s open and being offered. We’re creating that social distancing by turning off the machines, by closing table games, you know, by closing a lot of our food and beverage areas, controlling that environment.”

Cloutier told TV5 he’s heard from the state, and he says the state understands the tribe’s decision. But, he’s quick to point out that if COVID-19 becomes an issue, they won’t hesitate to dial things back.

“We’re not digging our heels in and saying we’re staying open; you know, we’re going to do what we want. We’re saying we’re going to stay engaged in the market in so long as we can to the betterment of our community. And we feel very confident in the choices we’ve made.”

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