By David Schuman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A western Minnesota casino opened to the public Monday.

Guests and employees at Prairie’s Edge Casino Resort in Granite Falls have their temperatures checked before entering the facility.

Everyone gets a squirt of hand sanitizer and can take a mask that the casino provides — employees are required to wear them and guests are strongly encouraged to.

On the floor, plastic dividers have been installed between every other slot machine and also at the bars.

No table games are open.

“When we’re finished, they come over and completely sanitize the machines and the chairs,” said Lucy Bennett, a guest from Granite Falls. “It’s great. I’m really pleased.”

Prairie’s Edge leaders say the changes to the guest experience, as well as to their internal operations, exceed health agency recommendations.

“We can either be the laughingstock or the shining example,” said Kevin Jensvold, the Upper Sioux Community Tribal Chairman. “We chose to be the shining example. We don’t underestimate, nor do we diminish, the dangers.”

The casino and resort belong to the people of Yellow Medicine Nation, a sovereign entity that isn’t required to abide by Minnesota laws like the stay at home order.

“Out here the rules are ours, not to be discussed or negotiated,” Jensvold said. “They simply are the laws of our land that govern the Upper Sioux people.”

Jensvold says the casino resort helps support close to 1,500 people and their families.

David Schuman