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Oneida Nation casinos reopen with new safety measures

Oneida Indian Nation
After nearly three months, the Oneida Indian Nation was able to reopen its casinos.

People can once again place bets at the Oneida Indian Nation's casinos in central New York, which reopened this week. 

With commonly touched items and surfaces like chips, cards, and slot machines, reopening a casino presents a number of unique challenges compared to the average business. But Joel Barkin, a spokesperson for the Oneida Indian Nation, said the staff is confident about the measures they have implemented to keep patrons safe from COVID-19.

"We’ve made a lot of investments in our employees and our infrastructure and we feel like we’re well-positioned to be successful again if we do it in a smart way, in a way that doesn’t take one step forward to take two steps back, and that’s why we have put in place such a far-reaching plan that prioritizes health and safety over everything else," Barkin said.

The changes range from mandating that staff and visitors wear face masks to more frequent sanitation of the cards and dice to investments in new technology for the slot machines.

"The machine itself will tell you when and if it has been sanitized since it last was played and at what time and as soon as a guest is finished playing on a machine an alert will go out to our staff to let them know that machine needs to be clean," Barkin said. 

Credit Oneida Indian Nation
Some of the restaurants at the Oneida Indian Nation's casinos in central New York are open, but the tables are spaced apart for the guests' safety.

Even though Turning Stone, Yellow Brick Road, and Point Place casinos are open again, Barkin said it's a scaled-back version of each. Some of the golf courses, restaurants, and nightclubs there are still closed and no events are planned for this phase of the reopening. Additionally, only those who live within a 120-mile radius of the casinos will be admitted in an attempt to prevent other areas of the state and country from causing a spike in the region's rate, which is currently on the decline.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.