It’s been a long, strange year so far with many changes to our daily routines, but as America continues with its reopening plan, businesses across the nation are excited to open their doors. Four Winds Casinos staff is happy to announce that they will once more be open to the public, beginning at noon on June 15. To celebrate this announcement, officials from the casino unveiled the many plans, precautions and improvements they have put in place over the last several weeks to ensure that guests can once again comfortably visit the casino and its facilities.
Visitors to Four Winds New Buffalo and Four Winds South Bend will be required to wear face masks while inside the building. By now, most people should be familiar with this, but for those who may have forgotten their masks at home, Four Winds staff is happy to provide masks to anyone who may need one. Visitors also will have their temperature checked upon entering. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher will be refused entry, to protect other guests and employees. Frequent handwashing is encouraged, and hand sanitizer stations have been placed throughout the resort.
Once inside the casino, those familiar with Four Winds Casinos will no doubt notice several changes to their favorite gaming destination. The screens of many slot machines will remain dark to prevent play on those machines and to encourage the rule of social distancing. Other machines have been configured to ensure proper social distancing. In other slot machine areas, guests will notice newly-installed plexiglass screens, which will reduce the risk of contamination.
Original plans call for the casino to open with approximately 55 percent of its gaming capacity, with seats removed to ensure compliance.
“We will be looking to expand capacity in the future, as the situation permits,” said Frank Freedman, Chief Operating Officer of Four Winds Casinos.
Freedman expects the casino to open initially at approximately 50 percent capacity.
“We’ve been monitoring other facilities that have been opening across the country, seeing what they’ve been doing, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and we’ve worked to incorporate the things that seem to be working well and trying to find alternatives to things that haven’t worked out so well in other places.”
“We are looking at this with an eye to the future. Some of these changes may be temporary. Others may be long-term and still others may be permanent. We’re looking at everything from what guests typically touch, to changes in our general policy to the function of our HVAC systems,” Freedman said.
Table games such as craps, blackjack, and others will still be played live, with real dice and cards, but interactions between player and dealer in some cases will be electronic, with no direct physical interaction.
“Players will be able to place their bets on individual electronic screens, and they will be able to watch the live game action at their table, but there will be no sharing of dice or chips. It’s still a live game, but wagers will be handled electronically,” Freedman said.
Cashier areas and other areas with typical face-to-face interactions will be protected by plexiglass dividers. In the event that guests are required to sign, they will be handed a new pen that they will keep.
For the time being, smoking inside the facilities will be prohibited until further notice. However, guests are welcome to step outside and visit one of the designated smoking areas.
Four Winds Casinos staff will continue to focus on cleaning all hard surfaces and especially in high-touch areas, such as counters, bell desks, elevators and elevator buttons, door handles, public bathrooms, room keys and locks, ATMs, hand railings, casino cage counters, gaming machines, gaming tables, gym equipment, dining surfaces and seating areas, push plates, door frames, light switches, drinking fountains, cabinet handles, hand sanitizer units, and public information kiosks. Public restrooms will be closed down at least once per shift for deep cleaning. Other high-traffic areas will be sanitized using electrostatic misting devices.
Matthew Wesaw, Tribal Council Chairman and CEO of the Pokagon Gaming Authority, was excited to oversee the re-opening announcement.
“We are doing everything possible to make sure that we are providing the safest experience possible. From the new seating arrangements, to the dividers and stringent cleaning, I think that visitors here will feel very comfortable and will be able to have a very comfortable experience. We appreciate all the support of our guests, especially those who have called us, asking when we will be reopening and we look forward to welcoming them all back,” Wesaw said. “This is all about keeping people safe.”
In the casino area, the self-serve refreshment counter will be open for guests to help themselves to soft drinks and coffee, but will now have a staff member stationed nearby who will ensure that the machines and supplies are clean and stocked.
Restaurants such as Hard Rock Cafe and Timbers restaurants will be open as well, with some changes. Plexiglass dividers have been installed to reduce the risk of cross-contamination, and menus will be single-use and disposable. Guests are also encouraged to simply view the menu on their smartphones, which they may easily do by scanning a QR code as they enter the dining area. Menus themselves have been shortened, with some items temporarily removed to streamline the flow from kitchen to table. Guests visiting the restaurant areas can also expect to see seating capacities reduced to ensure proper social distancing. Condiments will be served in single-use containers, and seating and table tops will be cleaned and sanitized after each guest. For the time being, the buffet and steak house will remain closed.
The hotel will also be reopening, with limited capacity at first. The usual industry standard cleaning practices will remain in place, with special emphasis placed on high-touch and high-traffic areas. The pool area will also be open, with proper social distancing in place and appropriate protocols regarding handling of used towels and linens.
For more information about Four Winds Casinos, including details of their COVID-19 policies and guidelines, visit them online at https://www.fourwindscasino.com/