Foxwoods Resort Casino is located in Mashantucket, Conn. It is owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and is located on their reservation.
The casino has been in operation since 1986 when it first operated as a massive bingo hall. It added a full casino in 1992 and is one of the largest casinos in the world.
Some casino officials recently allowed cameras from ABC’s Nightline to come inside and have a look around, as they laid out their plans for the “new normal” in the age of COVID-19. A big change will be the “sanity stations” that will be located throughout the casino floor.
Every guest will have their temperature taken before they are allowed into the casino. Employees will also have their temperatures taken hourly, which will be a big change going forward.
Any sign of any illness among the employees, and it will be dealt with immediately. The Chairman of Foxwoods, Rodney Butler, led the tour for ABC this week.
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The casino complex is a massive one, over 344,000 square feet of gaming space. As the tour started, Juju Chang of ABC said, “the place was eerily silent, with none of the 4,500 slot machines lit up or making any sounds.”
Butler said the casino has never closed one day even since opening in 1992. All Butler could add was, “unbelievable, the slot machines being turned off, they should be clinging and clanging right now.”
Foxwoods has four different casinos on the property. Fox Tower, Grand Pequot, Great Cedar, and Rainmaker, all empty, with most of the staff furloughed since March.
There is a compact agreement between the state and the tribe that allows the state to collect 25% of the slot machine revenue, and that is it. The state does collect taxes on other table games or bingo.
In 2019, the state of Connecticut received close to $110 million just from the slot machines. The slot machines at the four casinos took in half a billion dollars in profit in 2019. The other tribal casino in Connecticut, the Mohegan Sun, paid $137 million to the state for their total operations.
Butler Said Shutdown Has Been Devastating To His Tribe, The State
During the tour, Butler explained to Chang that they have zero revenue, and over 95% percent of the employees are laid off now, as the furlough period has ended. Butler said that there is just no gaming income right now, and no tax base on the reservation, so in essence, it costs the tribe over $2 million a week to keep the operation closed down.
Everyone is on the same page, Butler added. The main concern is to keep employees and guests visiting the casinos as safe as possible. The Foxwoods team has been working around the clock for the last month on ways to get everything on track safety-wise for the reopening.
Brian Hayes, the Vice President of analytics and slot machine operations, has been leading a team on implementing new safety measures to deal with the virus. Hayes said, “The cards will be switched out each hour, and in the past, they were only switched out once daily. That’s a big change.” the VP said, “but a necessary one.”
There are a lot of germs on cards in the best of times. Chips used in table games are also being reviewed for sanitary measures. Social distancing rules will be strongly enforced throughout the casino with a few seats in between players at table games.
This is all new, Hayes added, “but we will figure it out and prosper.”