DULUTH – Though they are not required to, many tribal-run casinos in Minnesota are temporarily closing, including the state’s largest — Mystic Lake which reversed course late Tuesday and said it would close temporarily for 14 days beginning at noon Wednesday.
“We have been balancing our responsibility of providing jobs and benefits to the thousands of people who depend on us with the rapidly developing guidance from the federal and state government,” said Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Chairman Keith Anderson in a news release Tuesday evening. “We have been working diligently on this by the hour to make the right decisions at the right time for our members, employees, team members and guests. It is best for our community and the larger community to temporarily close at this time.”
The closure includes the casino, hotel and all group meetings at Mystic Lake Center, which are postponed or canceled until further notice.
Gov. Tim Walz’s order closing restaurants and bars in the state and limiting the size of public gatherings does not apply to the casinos due to tribal sovereignty.
Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton and Fond-du-Luth Casino in downtown Duluth will shut their doors beginning at 5 p.m. Wednesday and will remain closed for at least 14 days.
The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, which operates both casinos, said conditions will be assessed before a reopening date is scheduled.
The casinos are “social hubs where people come to see shows, eat, game and enjoy themselves,” said tribal Chairman Kevin DuPuis. “We’ve been monitoring the pandemic very closely and feel that it is in the best interests of our guests, our employees and the community at-large to temporarily close the casino.”
Grand Casino closed its Mille Lacs and Hinckley operations for at least two weeks starting at 4 p.m. Monday.
“During the temporary closure, the casinos will continue to pay both salaried and hourly positions,” Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures said in a news release. “Both properties will also undergo an intense cleaning process to further protect Guests and Associates upon reopening.”
Treasure Island Resort and Casino on the Prairie Island Indian Community also announced that it would close late Tuesday. It had instituted a partial closure that started Monday night that involved social distancing. But it had closed its doors by 9 p.m. Tuesday.
“While we have confidence in our already rigorous cleaning policies and our enhanced mitigation efforts, which included closing large sections of the casino, health officials now say that shutting down gathering spots is what is needed to help slow the spread of COVID-19,” the casino said in an online statement. “Temporarily closing the resort & casino is how we can responsibly help.”