Casino Allowed To Reopen As Restaurants Are Forced To Stay Closed

One Minnesota casino has already reopened while others plan to do the same soon. Meanwhile, other businesses face $25,000 fines if they choose to resume operation.

Prairie's Edge Casino
Prairie's Edge Casino

A Sioux-owned casino in Granite Falls, Minnesota reopened without incident, Monday, as other non-native-owned businesses have been barred from doing the same.

Since the beginning of Governor Tim Walz’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Minnesota’s Native American reservations have been exempted from statewide restrictions on travel and commerce. Instead, tribal governments have been granted the authority to craft their own policies to keep their people safe. This has led to a broad variety of approaches ranging from martial law in the case of the Red Lake Chippewa Indians to a reopening of the Prairie’s Edge Casino under the direction of the Upper Sioux Community.

A press release from Prairie’s Edge details the safety precautions planned by the casino before its reopening at the outset of this week. A reduction of capacity, the cancellation of table games, the installation of plexiglass dividers between gaming machines and a prohibition on patrios with a fever greater than 100.1 are all designed to keep gamblers safe and healthy.

Mystic Lake and Little Six casinos also say they’re slated to re-open soon with less stringent safety measures that allow for table games like blackjack to be played, according to Fox 9.

However, other Minnesota businesses that are equally willing to enact their own safety measures have been barred from opening— a double standard that Republican State Representative Mary Franson was quick to point out via Twitter.

“Will Keith Ellison treat the casino the same as Shady’s,” she asked, referencing the State Attorney General’s legal action against a restaurant owner who said he was going to reopen for business.

Franson’s use of the term “Karen” is not an address directed at a specific person, but rather a nod to internet users who frequently refer to those who are especially zealous about social distancing and economic shutdowns as “Karens.”

On the same day that Prairie’s Edge reopened, a court granted Ellison’s request to specifically bar Shady’s from conducting business. “The attorney general has just called, and they shut us down,” the restaurants’s owner told a crowd of hungry patrons who had amassed, waiting to for the establishment to reopen. Had Shady’s chosen to reopen anyway, it would have been given six $25,000 fines— one for each Shady’s location.

Franson has also warned that permanent business closures as a result of Walz’s economic shutdowns are imminent, a concern shared by Hospitality Minneota which predicts that over half of hospitality related establishments will soon be forced to shutter their doors forever.