By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — High overhead, the sprawling Treasure Island Resort and Casino looks eerily vacant. Empty parking lots, a hotel and amphitheater sit unused.

“It’s eerily weird, it’s heartbreaking and it’s tough, tough because it affects a lot of people,” explains Tribal Chairwoman and President, Shelley Buck.

On March 17, the gaming and entertainment complex fell quiet. More than 1,500 employees were furloughed. Though workers kept medical coverage, the community lost it’s only means of support.

“This is the sole income that funds the government and programs, everything we do is fueled by this place, so when this place stops our revenue stops,” Buck explained.

That’s why reopening the complex is critical to the health and safety of the tribal community and the surrounding economy. President Buck says it’s easy to understand how the community has one chance to do it right. Regaining customer confidence is imperative.

That’s why they will greatly limit the number of customers allowed on the gaming floor and restaurant areas. The casino staff is currently working to remove every other chair from slot machines pods and table games. All staff members will be given health screenings daily and wear masks on the job.

Machines and surfaces, both in the casino and hotel will be constantly sanitized.

“Our people employees are going to be wearing masks, going to be taking safety measures and policing to make sure people are following six-foot distancing,” Buck explained.

For games never played and shows never performed, regaining confidence and safety will be key.

“We’re going to ask customers to wear masks and not decided yet if required or not. But we need to make sure all of our decisions are first and foremost safe for employees and customers,” Buck added.

Stakes that couldn’t be higher.

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