Sign Of The Times: Chinook Winds Casino Closes Temporarily Due To COVID-19

Posted on December 3, 2020

As COVID-19 cases surge in Oregon, one tribal casino in the state has taken the most drastic step it can to mitigate transmission of the virus.

Chinook Winds Casino closed Tuesday to protect guests and staff and will remain shuttered for at least two weeks.

While other gambling properties in Oregon remain open with restrictions, it may not be long before others follow suit. If hospitalization rates continue to skyrocket around the state, there might be little other option.

How long is Chinook Winds Casino closed for?

According to a statement from the Lincoln City casino, the property looks to reopen after two weeks. The casino will pay its staff during the closure. Additionally, the property plans to use the time to deep clean and sanitize everything on site.

“The safety of our team members and guests is our top priority,” said Michael S. Fisher, general manager of Chinook Winds. “Team members will be paid through the tentative two-week closure. We look forward to announcing our reopening.”

The resort did not disclose whether any of its staff had tested positive. The casino also did not say whether any guests with positive testing results visited recently.

Over the final week of November, Lincoln County saw a 6.2% positivity rate. That’s the highest rate for the county since mid-August.

If that rate doesn’t fall, casino executives may opt to extend the closure. Numbers in other parts of the state aren’t much better, putting other casinos in jeopardy.

A look at the situations for other Oregon casinos

Oregon is home to seven other tribal casinos. Tribal casinos on sovereign lands operate with a great deal of autonomy, only bound by the terms of their gaming compacts.

Therefore, in most cases, how they restrict their business for public health reasons is largely up to the individual tribes. Indian Head Casino, which endured a long shutdown earlier this year, is an example of this.

Indian Head Casino

The casino is open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. It is currently not offering table games, and the dining establishments only offer carryout. The casino also requires guests to submit to temperature screenings and wear face masks on the property.

Indian Head sits in Jefferson County, which the Oregon Health Authority reports as having an alarming positivity rate of nearly 52% since Nov. 29.

Kla-Mo-Ya Casino

Despite the fact that Klamath County reports no positive tests over the last period, the Klamath Tribes have closed their property through at least Dec. 18. Right now, the tentative plan is to reopen Dec. 19.

From Nov. 22 to Nov.28, the county had a 72.8% positivity rate, the peak of a steadily rising trend spanning a month and prompting the tribe’s decision to close the property.

The Mill Casino & Hotel

This Coquille Indian Tribe property resides in Coos County, which saw its positivity rate rise from 3.4% in late October to 29.9% as of Nov. 28. Since then, the county hasn’t reported any positive results.

While the casino remains open 24 hours, several of its amenities are unavailable. Management has reduced hours for its dining options and requires guests to wear face masks while on the property.

Seven Feathers Casino Resort

The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians limited the casino’s hours of operation, opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 11 p.m. daily. Seven Feathers has closed off half of its slot machines and restricts table games to two positions per table.

The casino requires guests to wear face masks and has closed most amenities. Douglas County has not reported any positive cases since Nov. 29 but had four weeks of a sustained rise in positivity rates prior.

Spirit Mountain Casino

Spirit Mountain is in Polk County, yet another place in which no positive tests have emerged in the past few days after a month of increasing positivity rates.

From Sunday to Thursday, the casino is open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. Spirit Mountain then operates 6 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Most of the amenities are not available right now. The property requires guests to wear face masks and has closed the poker room.

Three Rivers Casino

In Lane County, the recent spike may have crested at a 44% positivity rate during the last week of November. The casino is open from 7 a.m. to 4 a.m. on a daily basis.

Dining options expect to reopen Dec. 3. The casino requires all guests to wear face masks and has banned smoking on the property indefinitely.

Wildhorse Resort & Casino

This property is open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays but scales that back to 7 a.m. t0 4 a.m. from Monday to Thursday. The casino requires guests to wear face masks and the dining options on-site are open for carryout only.

Umatilla County has had one of the highest positivity rates in the state on a consistent basis throughout the pandemic. Since mid-June, the lowest in a week’s time was 11.8%.

Hopefully, the state has seen the worst of its coronavirus woes. For now, the Kla-Mo-Ya and Chinook Winds casino are closed. Others remain open but that could change at any time.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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