Second Upper Peninsula Casino Reopening Friday In Michigan

Written By Matt Schoch on May 19, 2020
Michigan casinos reopening

A second Michigan casino will reopen Friday morning in the Upper Peninsula.

Tuesday’s announcement by Northern Waters Casino Resort in Watersmeet came one day after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced plans to reopen much of Northern Michigan this weekend.

The Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians facility, near the Wisconsin border, will join Island Resort and Casino in Harris as the only of 26 Michigan casinos taking bets this holiday weekend.

Island Resort and Casino opened on Saturday, the first one after every Michigan casino closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plan details Northern Waters safety precautions

Tuesday’s announcement said Northern Waters will open at 8 a.m. local time, and 9 a.m. in the Eastern time zone, which most of Michigan is in.

The announcement said the hotel will open at a later date, casino equipment will be sterilized and that employees have received extensive sanitation training.

Other safety measures include: 

  • You must have an existing Players Club card/account to enter, unless accompanying a spouse/significant other who has a Players Club card/account.
  • Hours of operation will be 8 a.m. to midnight daily.
  • The maximum capacity will be 150 guests.
  • All guests will be pre-screened upon entering the casino.
  • 155 slot machines will be available for play, abiding by the social distancing protocol.
  • Guests and employees will be required to wear a mask. You will be allowed to remove your mask while seated at a slot machine.
  • Guests must observe the social distancing recommendation of 6 feet unless you are from the same household.
  • Guests are encouraged to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer provided upon entering and exiting the gaming floor.
  • No food will be permitted on the gaming floor. A limited menu will be available and eating food will be permitted only in designated areas.
  • No smoking is permitted on the gaming floor. There will be a designated smoking area in the building.
  • Beverage service will be available from cocktail servers. There will be no self-serve coffee and soda stations available for guests.
  • Please be respectful of our employees. They are working hard to keep you safe and healthy.

Michigan officials, tribes were at odds

Island Resort and Casino’s original plan to reopen was rebuffed by Whitmer’s attorney general.

A letter from the office of Dana Nessel threatened “civil and criminal penalties” for customers and employees at the proposed reopening earlier this month.

Rep. Beau LaFave, a Republican representing the Island Resort district, drafted a resolution last week to reaffirm the sovereignty of tribal nations.

All this as Whitmer, a Democrat, is facing a lawsuit from the other side of the aisle challenging her executive powers. Michigan Republicans hold a majority in both of congressional chambers.

The casino issue was discussed at a meeting last week between state tribal leaders, Whitmer and other state officials.

Gov. Whitmer reopening much of state this weekend

Whitmer announced Monday that many businesses, including bars and restaurants at a maximum 50% capacity, can reopen in the U.P. and Northern Michigan on Friday.

Eleven of the state’s 23 tribal casinos are in the U.P., and five others are in the Traverse City Region, which also is partially reopening on Friday.

Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the unofficial opening of the summer season in Michigan, where many residents open up seasonal homes in the northern part of the state.

Detroit’s trio of commercial casinos will be closed through at least May 28, as they are subject to the governor’s continued Stay Home order for much of the state.

On Tuesday afternoon, the American Gaming Association was reporting that 91 casinos nationwide were reopened and 898 were closed.

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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He’s also the former host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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