Darkened casinos ready to reopen but waiting for Gov. Lamont’s green light

Coronavirus

(WTNH) — Triple Star slots are frozen on 7s. Empty chairs sit everywhere.
For the first time in nearly 30 years, Foxwoods Casino is silent.

“To walk the entire concourse and barely run into one person is completely unimaginable,” Rodney Butler, Mashantucket Tribal Chair said.

Butler recalls the 1992 opening when there were people five to six people deep at the gaming tables and there were cars still streaming down Route 2. For safety, both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun closed six weeks ago at hand of COVID-19.

The tribal chair said they’re burning through several million dollars a week from their reserve account.

They’re coordinating with the state on slot revenue contributions and are supposed to get federal aid. Butler says the CARES Act included money for tribes but a court case and government red tape are holding up the process.

“$8 billion stuck in a lawsuit – no clear timeline of distribution,” he said.

A total of 6,500 gaming, shop and restaurant employees are not working; 200 vendors statewide are not delivering, and a tribal nation of 1,000 waiting.

Governor Ned Lamont is adamant about the casinos remaining closed.

“I do think they should stay closed for a while longer even with the very best social distancing protocols,” he said.

“Everything is going to change in the casino industry,” Butler said. With no timeline for reopening, Butler said Foxwoods is ready when it’s time.

‘We’ll have significant spacing at the tables. Distancing at the slot machines.”

There will be no buffet, no bingo until the all clear is given.

“We are ready and can turn on the lights pretty quickly once we get the green light,” he said.

There are renewed talks about online gaming. It could not only help the tribal nation but also Connecticut’s coffers.

Web Extra: Butler discusses what online gaming could mean

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