Business

WinStar to reopen Oklahoma casino on Wednesday at reduced capacity

The casino operated by the Chickasaw Nation is one of the closest to the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

WinStar World Casino and Resort will reopen Wednesday at 25% capacity, but with two months of pent-up demand from Texans who frequent the Oklahoma attraction.

Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby announced the reopening plan Friday. He said preparations began weeks ago and included employee testing, alterations to facilities and worker training to ensure disinfecting and safety protocols are followed at the Thackerville resort.

All employees and vendors have been tested for COVID-19, the tribe said, and employees will be randomly tested every two weeks. Employees will also be temperature checked every day before reporting to work.

Only one-fourth of WinStar’s 600,000 square feet of gambling space will be in use initially. For example, every other chair will be removed from slot machines and electronic games.

Casino staff will check customers’ temperatures and will deny entry to anyone recording 100.4°F or higher.

Customers and employees will be required to wear protective face coverings. The casino will be closed from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. daily for cleaning and disinfecting. The resort’s restaurants and bars will reduce seating to maintain six feet of distance between customers.

Table games, poker, bingo and off-track betting remain suspended, along with concerts and other events, according to WinStar’s website. Its pools are also closed.

The Chickasaw Nation operates a smaller Border Casino in Thackerville, which will also open May 27.

Last week, when the Osage Nation reopened its casino in Tulsa, it filled to capacity in less than two hours. WinStar opens its doors at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

The other Oklahoma casino closest to Dallas-Fort Worth -- Choctaw Casinos and Resorts -- is sticking with its June 1 target date for reopening. The casino released guidelines Thursday on what its reopening will look like.

Unlike WinStar casino, the Choctaw tribe will have masks available for customers, but will not require them to be worn to enter casino properties. Employees will be required to wear masks and each must attest that they’re healthy before reporting to work.

Hand sanitizer stations will be placed in high traffic areas throughout the casino.

When Choctaw’s occupancy limit is reached, it will allow customers to wait outside until they can enter. Gaming positions will be reduced where necessary and the casinos will be cleaned more frequently, especially high-touch areas, such as door handles, elevator buttons and slot machines.

Swimming pools will be open, but pool seating will be configured to allow for at least six feet distancing between groups traveling together.

Ashton Nichols. Ashton covers companies and the economy for the Dallas Morning News. She’s previously reported at The Columbus Dispatch and the Ohio Center for Investigative Journalism. When she is not writing, Ashton enjoys reading books and traveling.

ashton.nichols@dallasnews.com @AshtonNichols_
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