Arlington casino becomes first in Western Washington to reopen since coronavirus outbreak

Thursday 14th May 2020

The Stillaguamish tribe's Angel of the Winds Casino Resort on Wednesday became the first casino in Western Washington to reopen since the coronavirus outbreak began, though several parts of the check-in process now look different.

In Washington, 22 tribes operate 29 casinos on reservation lands, where they retain decision-making authority despite Gov. Jay Inslee's stay-home order, in place until the end of May. The Arlington casino has been closed since the order went into effect in late March and has implemented a number of restrictions as part of its first phase of reopening.

One of the new changes requires all guests to bring a cellphone, because texting is now part of the check-in process, according to the casino's website.

When people arrive at Angel of the Winds, they must enter through the casino's parking lot -- the parking garage and valet are closed -- and follow signs to a check-in area. There, guests will receive a list of precautions they must follow while inside and a phone number to text to join a virtual line for entry, according to the website.

Guests then will return to their car and wait until they receive a text message, which will signal it's their turn to proceed to a queuing marker by the casino's main entrance.

If a guest has mobility restrictions, they can wait in the drop-off area outside the casino's main entrance after receiving a text back.

Angel of the Winds spokespeople did not respond to several requests for comment.

KIRO-TV on Wednesday showed footage of a long line of cars waiting to enter the casino's parking lot, and several people on Facebook and Twitter also commented on the extensive waiting times Wednesday.

Before guests can enter the casino, the Stillaguamish tribe is also requiring a temperature and ID check of every patron. All guests must bring their own face covering. The tribe also is instituting an all-smoke-free policy, the first in the state in a tribal casino, as a way to create and maintain a more healthy environment. Smoking areas outdoors will be provided.

Hand-sanitizing stations will be accessible throughout the facility, and staff will not allow people to congregate on the gaming floor. No more than 800 customers will be allowed in the building at a time, less than half the capacity.

Only two of four restaurants will open their doors -- Katie's Kitchen and 210 Brewing CO -- and only 25% of the seating will be used. All glasses and flatware in both restaurants will be disposable. The casino also will reopen The Grind, a coffee bar inside.

Shawn Yanity, chairman of the Stillaguamish tribe, has said the tribe decided to reopen the casino because it has bills to pay, loan payments to make and more than 850 laid-off employees eager to get back to work.

"We have discussed a variety of reopening dates previously and wanted to ensure all necessary precautions were in place and we were fully prepared to open our doors," Yanity said in a news release last week.

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