“It’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for ‘em.”

Pepper Brooks, Dodgeball (2004)

In a report from the “this should go well” files, the Island Resort & Casino in Harris, Michigan announced on Friday that it will reopen this coming Wednesday, May 6.

Shutdown order not a concern

But wait, you may interrupt, didn’t Governor Gretchen Whitmer sign executive order 2020-69 the previous day to extend her state’s casino shutdown, all while angry mobs of gun-toting “patriots” stormed the Capitol Building to protest for their right to pedicures and Pai Gow poker?

Yes, she did. But because Island is a tribal casino, owned by the Hannahville Indian Community, it is not subject to state oversight. It is instead regulated by National Indian Gaming Commission and its tribal organization. Thus, the casino does not have to abide by any closure order.

That is not to say that it hadn’t. It has been closed since March 21, but that is technically a voluntary decision.

Casino GM believes area is safe

“As far as the Governor’s order, those casinos are in the hot spot of Detroit,” Island general manager Tony Mancilla told WJMN-TV in Marquette. “Those three casinos they have jurisdiction over are right in the middle of where all this is happening, and that makes sense. It doesn’t make sense for us here in the U.P. that was lightly hit.”

He is not totally wrong. The Upper Peninsula, or U.P., as Michiganders call it, is much less populated that the Lower Peninsula. It is a beautiful summer vacation area for Michigan residents and people in nearby Wisconsin (Harris, Michigan, is only about 90 miles north of Green Bay). The Detroit area has gotten absolutely hammered by COVID-19. Conversely, Menominee County, where Harris located, has had only five confirmed cases of the virus.

Casino doing the minimum to keep people healthy

Thus, on Wednesday, slots enthusiasts will be able to mash buttons at Island Resort & Casino. “Select food service prepared to go, select bars, bingo and retail” will also be available. The golf courses will reopen on Friday and the hotel will open on May 13. All other casino games, including poker, as well as other resort amenities are slated for “later phases.”

Aside from the expected sanitizing and wiping down of gaming machines, doorknobs, elevator buttons, and other high-touch surfaces, the casino isn’t doing a whole hell of a lot to protect customers. After all, it’s going to be open this week. Customers will be required to have their temperature checked before entering; anyone with a temperature over 100 degrees will be sent home. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the casino. Plexiglass barriers have been installed to separate staff from guests where possible.

None of those things are particularly innovative, especially the temperature-taking. It’s a good step, certainly, but considering people can carry the virus without being symptomatic, it’s not going to catch everyone.

As for masks, everyone is encouraged to wear one, but they will not be required, just “encouraged.” Staff won’t even have to done them. Social distancing is also something that is “recommended” but doesn’t sound like it will be enforced. At least there will be markings on the floor to help.

“Once people are in the facility, it’s their responsibility to take care of themselves,” said Mancilla.

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