State warning forces Casino Island Resort to discard reopening plans

State warning forces Casino Island Resort to discard reopening plans

Island Resort & Casino, based in Michigan’s picturesque Upper Peninsula, has confirmed that it discarded its plans to reopen the property for customers after state authorities warned that any such move would only make life more risky for its tribal members and customers.

The tribal casino had previously announced its plans to come out of shutdown last week but the warning by state authorities made it ditch that plan. The property is one of the state’s largest golf, casino and entertainment resorts, and it is owned by the Hannahville Indian Community.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s attitude against the notorious coronavirus epidemic has not been welcomed by many conservative state residents. US President Trump has also repeatedly criticized Governor Whitmer’s stance to deal with the pandemic.

US president announced shutdown in mid of March in a bid to stop the coronavirus from spreading further, but Michigan Governor Gretchen delayed a statewide stay-at-home order by more than a week. Michigan’s tribe community willingly closed the casino on 21st of March; a couple of days earlier than Governor Whitmer issued a statewide lockdown order.

State officials warned Tribal chairperson Kenneth Meshigaud that while they couldn’t legally stop them from reopening Island Resort & casino, they could target casino employees and customers for violating the state’s orders. They warned that casino employees and customers could be slapped with fines of up to $1,000 per violation for entering the casino.

Speaking on the topic, Meshigaud said, “We got a letter by email on May 5 that told us about the measures the governor had taken to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan, such as declaring the state of emergency, stay-at-home orders, and explanation of the governor’s authority.”

It may be noted here that Michigan is a federally recognized sovereign nation and its twelve tribal operators cannot be forced to obey the governor’s orders.

Facing economic hardship due to the prolonged closures of casinos and other non-essential businesses, the Hannahville had decided to reopen of its gaming facilities in a phased manner starting 6th of May. But, the operators ditched that plan and said that they would work with state authorities on safeguards to ensure public safety.