TAHLEQUAH – Poker has been “reintroduced” at the tribe’s casinos in West Siloam Springs and Catoosa, according to the Cherokee Nation Businesses boss.
“We’re going to have eight positions per game with plexiglass dividers so that we can ensure the safety of our patrons,” CNB CEO Chuck Garrett told Tribal Councilors on April 29.
At both casinos, masks remain mandatory for employees and guests.
“We suggest that guests bring their own masks, which should cover the nose and mouth, but not the entire face or head,” the CNB’s casino website states.
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa is operating under the Hard Rock International’s SAFE + SOUND program. According its website site, “These comprehensive guidelines enhance cleaning practices, social interaction and workplace protocols.”
Key elements of the program include mandatory masks, social distancing, increased cleaning and disinfecting, plexiglass separators in certain locations and more.
When COVID-19 began spreading in early 2020, CNB casinos were shuttered for several months, followed by a “careful, phased process to responsibly reopen,” according to CNB.
“We are inching our way back to pre-COVID activities and operations,” Garrett said. “March was an incredible month for us across the board. Our casino and gaming activities have improved substantially. Of course, we’re continuing to adhere to responsible hospitality, and that’s putting some restrictions on our operations as we all know.”
Touching on the continued mask mandate, Tribal Councilor Mike Shambaugh noted that, “It’s tough to compete when nobody’s playing by those rules anymore.”
“You guys have been the leaders in keeping people safe in Oklahoma,” he said. “Our casinos are a great example of that. But, you know, we’re getting to the point now where everybody else isn’t doing it.”
The casinos are also opening “some of the self-service beverage stations that have been closed for the last year,” Garrett said. In June, he added, some meeting spaces are scheduled to reopen with limited occupancy.
Cherokee Nation Entertainment, a CNB subsidiary, operates 10 gaming venues throughout northeast Oklahoma.