Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Double-Down on Decision to Leave NC Venues Open

There’s no denying the magnitude of the effects of COVID-19 on the gaming industry. Many casinos on a global level have suffered from low traffic, diminished visitor numbers, and pretty much everything else you can think of. Whenever something happens and traffic grinds to a halt, every single person involved in the gaming industry is in jeopardy, as employees become ‘disposable’ due to casinos running out of money.

Albeit grim, measures taken against the coronavirus outbreak by casinos have been in the best interest of public safety due to the social nature of gaming. Monday saw a complete shutdown of all nine Atlantic City casinos, in a move that aims to decrease possibilities for human contact to a bare minimum.

On the other hand, several organizations have decided to continue operations. One such group is the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, who’ve encountered ample criticism because they opted to keep their NC venues up and running.

Is Limited Function the Answer?

A large majority of states have opted to take precautionary measures against the COVID-19 pandemic, which means that the gaming industry was required to make some changes. Experts have voiced their concerns about casinos staying open, so various venues throughout the country started offering hand sanitizers in high-traffic areas, as well as creating new disinfection protocols.

Employees were also given a crash course in dealing with the virus and protecting themselves during interactions with players. On top of that, they were also tasked with spreading information about potential tactics to minimize the risk of contagion, all in an effort to quell down public safety concerns.

Despite the hospitality industry taking a hit both in North Carolina and country-wide, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opted to continue with their operations. Interestingly, the tribe announced the shutdown of all of their youth centers, schools, and daycares operated by them. This move has attracted a lot of tongue-in-cheek comments, mainly ones accusing the Cherokee tribe of ‘not working in the public’s interest.’

Expectedly, they’ve fired back at the critics, pointing out that neither state-level or federal-level authorities have issued decrees or orders to close down all casinos. In addition to this, the tribe reiterated their care for public safety, reminding both visitors and legislators of their efforts to keep their premises clean.

It’s not clear what the future holds but, for now, the Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel and Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort venues will remain open. Due to the possibility of the virus spreading via food, the Chef’s Stage Buffet has closed down. A WSOP tournament has been canceled, too.

What Are the Options?

For casinos in North Carolina and the US as a whole, a ban on all operations is evidently imminent. Realistically, casinos and other gambling venues are considered as premises that are ‘non-essential’ to the public. If by any chance, the pandemic became even direr, only pharmacies, hospitals, stores, and maybe pet shops will stay open.

Most casino employees aren’t on long-term contracts, which means that reimbursement for these unexpected shutdowns isn’t guaranteed by the law. Nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen, as the decision is down to the venues’ owners. There is a high chance layoffs will occur, but it’s impossible to say for certain, as the situation changes on a day-to-day basis.

Still, online gambling is bound to take the bulk of the industry’s revenue upon itself. Expect gaming aficionados to flock to casino apps and various e-wallets, all in an effort to avoid leaving their homes or using cash for making transactions.

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