Four Winds Casinos to remain open with COVID-19 precautions

DOWAGIAC — The slots will go on at Four Winds Casino in Dowagiac.

The casino franchise, with locations in New Buffalo, Hartford, Dowagiac and South Bend, announced on Tuesday that it would remain open with COVID-19 precautions.

The casinos are owned by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and operated by the Pokagon Gaming Authority.

In an effort to combat the rising COVID-19 cases statewide, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency order Sunday to take place for three weeks, which began Wednesday, to limit indoor social gatherings and other group activities. Among the list of restrictions is a three-week closure of non-tribal casinos in Detroit.

Unlike state and local governments, which predominantly use tax dollars to operate, the Pokagon Band is a Sovereign Native American Government, which relies on revenue from its business ventures to fund services and programs for citizens. The Pokagon Band does not fall under the jurisdiction of the states of Michigan or Indiana.

While tribal casinos are not required to adhere to state orders, casinos sometimes voluntarily close their operations in conjunction with the state. The Pokagon Gaming Authority closed its Four Winds Casinos on March 17 and re-opened them at reduced capacity on June 15.

“Like other governments, we are continually monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and have taken extensive health and safety precautions to help protect our tribal citizens, our employees that work in our tribal government, as well as our Four Winds Casinos employees, and guests that visit our four casino locations in Michigan and Indiana,” said Pokagon Gaming Authority representatives in a statement. “The Pokagon Band and its Four Winds Casinos will continue to be diligent with the current safety and sanitation procedures as the health and safety of our employees and guests remains our top priority. The Pokagon Gaming Authority will continue to work with the Pokagon Gaming Commission, our Casino Operations Team and the Pokagon Health Task Force to evaluate any potential changes to our casino operations.”

According to its list of procedures, all Four Winds employees are being required to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and asked not to report to work if they or someone they are in close contact with, are experiencing symptoms or have been diagnosed with COVID – 19.

All employees will be screened at dedicated employee entrances by a security officer who will administer a non-contact temperature check and will be subject to a health questionnaire regarding symptoms. Those experiencing symptoms or with an elevated temperature will be denied entry.

All guests will be required to wear masks and submit to a health screening by the casinos’ security team upon entry into the facility, similar to the screening process for employees. At entry screening, any guest who answers positively to experiencing symptoms and/or whose temperature reads above 100.4 degrees fahrenheit will be refused entry in an effort to protect guests and employees. Initial screenings that result in a positive result will be subject to a discreet secondary screening for confirmation. All guests denied entry due to temperature and/or symptoms, will be provided COVID-19 information including general guidance as well as a listing of local health resources.

A complete list of guest procedures can be found on the Four Winds Casinos’ website.

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