WinStar, Choctaw Casinos Prepare to Reopen Amid Pandemic

Casinos in southern Oklahoma are preparing to reopen after being closed for more than two months.

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North Texans are looking for ways to get away.

Wednesday, two destinations within driving distance will reopen.

Both WinStar World and Choctaw casinos and resorts, just across the Texas-Oklahoma border, will open for the first time since March.

At WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma, luck isn't the only thing visitors will need.

Guests and employees will be required to wear masks, and temperatures will be checked at the door.

WinStar World Casino and Resort
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WinStar World Casino and Resort

“We're going to be patient and careful and not let emotion overtake patience,” WinStar General Manager Jack Parkinson said.

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Casinos in Las Vegas plan to reopen in early June with many of the same safety measures in place closer to home.

Slot machines will spaced out, half the chairs will be gone, and self-serve drink stations and buffets will be staffed. The non-smoking section has also been doubled.

WinStar World Casino and Resort
NBC 5 News
WinStar World Casino and Resort

“We'll have hordes of humans, employees, chasing after people, cleaning up after them and making sure that we're sterile at all times,” Parkinson said.

Customers will see social distancing reminders and hand sanitizer everywhere, but the most striking difference will be table games that remain closed at WinStar.

When we do open it'll only be three people at a table instead of seven,” Parkinson said.

Table games will reopen at Choctaw Casino & Resort in Durant, Oklahoma, but limited to every other seat. Tables in play will be staggered. Guests will also be encouraged, but not required, to wear masks at Choctaw.

Both casinos said they planned to limit capacity and close for several hours overnight for deep cleaning, including a use of electrostatic sprayers and EPA-certified chemicals, according to Parkinson.

“It's a cost that's calculated and well worth it,” he said.

Parkinson said WinStar has done everything to prepare and planned to reopen in phases because the stakes couldn't be higher.

He said all 4,000 WinStar employees were tested for the coronavirus before they returned to work and the casino will perform random testing every two weeks.

Click here for reopening protocols for WinStar Word Casino and Resort and Choctaw Casino & Resort.

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