Mayor Says Other Businesses Should be Allowed to Open like Casino

It’s always been a gamble for players who walk into Mystic Lake or any of Minnesota’s tribal casinos and restaurants. Some might say it’s more so now than ever with casinos among the only bars and restaurants still open for business during the current surge in coronavirus cases.

“The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s Gaming Enterprises — including Mystic Lake Casino Hotel and Little Six Casino — will remain open, following comprehensive COVID-19 health and safety plans. As a sovereign tribal nation, we made this decision in consultation with our Tribal Public Health Department,” the SMSC said in a statement.

Tribal gaming facilities operate independently of the jurisdiction of Gov. Tim Walz’s latest statewide emergency shutdown of the hospitality business since November 20.  Southwest News Media found the Prior Lake casino and hotel continues to welcome customers with scaled-back operations and standard safety precautions to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

“The health and safety of team members and guests remains Mystic Lake and Little Six’s highest priority. Both properties will continue to limit building occupancy; maintain social distancing standards; require all team members and guests to wear masks; conduct noninvasive thermal scanning at entrances; conduct daily health screenings of team members upon arrival; and ask any team member or guest exhibiting signs of illness to leave,” the SMSC said.

The area’s largest employer, Mystic Lake shut down during Gov. Walz’s first emergency order in March. Prior Lake Mayor Kirt Briggs applauds the tribe’s decision to keep the casino’s doors open this time around, but believes other local businesses deserve and badly need to have the same opportunity.

Prior Lake Mayor Kirt Briggs is concerned about the economic impact the second shutdown will have on local restaurant owners. Like Mystic Lake, he thinks Prior Lake restaurants could still operate safely during this time, he said.

“The tribe, the path that they’ve taken, we not only acknowledge it, respect it, (we) know that they’re meeting guests in a safe environment,” Briggs said. “They demonstrated through COVID that they can provide restaurant services safely for their customers,” Briggs said. “Quite honestly, we in Prior Lake believe our restaurants could do the same thing and we continue to encourage the governor to make sure that as he looks at restaurants and gyms that they too can open doors safely to customers.”

Gov. Walz may be having second thoughts, having postponed his decision on whether to extend his current clampdown on bars, restaurants and gyms until Wednesday. If the governor dropped by Mystic Lake in the meantime, he might find it’s not such a gamble to open up those businesses after all.