Tulalip, other casinos reopen with new precautions in place

VIDEO: Tulalip Casino reopens

TULALIP, Wash. — More casinos in Washington opened their doors Tuesday after closing due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Tulalip Resort Casino in Tulalip, Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn and Quil Ceda Creek Casino in Marysville are now open for business.

Following a two-month closure, the Tulalip Resort reopened Tuesday at half capacity.

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Wade Jay Tucker was one of the first people in line for the relaunch.

“It feels good,” he told KIRO 7. “You get bored being trapped in the house. I've been doing nothing but playing music."

To accommodate gamblers like Tucker, casino managers said they had to make several key changes.

To allow for social distancing, the casino is only allowed to be half full. While the gambling floor has the capacity to hold 4,000 people at a given time, Ken Kettler, president of Tulalip Resort, said only a maximum of 1,500 people would be allowed inside the casino at once.

He said all other guests would have to sign up for text message alerts when waiting to enter the casino.

They will then be summoned through text messages when space is available.

Before anyone enters, visitors must have their temperatures taken at the door and must also be wearing a mask.

Once inside, they will also notice plexiglass at all counters and customer service desks.

Casino managers insisted it was the new price of doing business.

“It's a huge undertaking and when you cut that off, and everything stops, it's serious business,” Kettler said.

Despite the changes, gamblers, such as Tucker, said they're confident they would be able to ward off the coronavirus.

"It seems like it's attacking people with underlying illnesses,” he said. “It seems no worse than the flu. If I get it, I guess I'll know.”

By reopening, managers told KIRO 7 that two-thirds of employees were brought back from being furloughed.

Workers said it took two full days to turn on all 2,400 slots in this casino.

They said demand for reopening was huge from the very start.

“On our Facebook page, we had 50,000 views that first day!” said Kettler. “50,000. So it went from there.”

“It’s good to see the cars back,” said gambler Richard LaChapelle. “We’re just the first ones in here, so I’m sure it’s gonna get crowded in another couple of hours.”

By noon, hundreds of people had arrived at the casino, which is now at least the fourth casino to reopen in Washington.

Kettler said he was confident customers would return, even in these abnormal times.

“There’s cabin fever and some pent up demand,” he said. “Gamers that are avid gamers, they want to keep on playing.”

Tulalip put out a guide about what changes guests can expect.

Some of the changes include limiting the number of people allowed at the resort at one time, touchless temperature checks, a face mask requirement for all guests and staff and plexiglass partitions in a number of areas. Disinfecting protocols will be in place for dice, cards and other items that are shared at the gaming tables. See all the COVID-19 precautions at the casino here.

The same changes are in place at Quil Ceda Creek Casino, which, like Tulalip, is run by the Tulalip Tribes of Washington.

Guests and staff at Muckleshoot Casino are required to wear face masks, table games may be limited, deep-cleaning will continue and guest capacity is reduced. Find more information here.

The three casinos aren’t the first to reopen in the state. There were huge lines when Angel of the Winds Casino reopened in early May.

Other casinos such as Emerald Queen and Suquamish Casino opened their doors next.

While the state hasn’t reached a phase where such businesses would be allowed to open, the casinos are on tribal lands, so state orders aren’t applicable.