Tribes eye online gaming amid pandemic struggles

In the midst of a debilitating global pandemic, there is no shortage of concerns for tribes involving their gaming operations.

Can employees be protected and paid? Will closures be necessary again? What is the best response to an alarming uptick in new cases during the first wave, and what happens if there is a second wave? Will the federal government properly live up to its treaty and trust obligations in this uncertain time if there continue to be major shortfalls in tribal operating funds?

Making their gaming facilities safe is one of the biggest on-the-ground challenges for tribes in their quests to be resilient. Social distancing isn’t easy at a poker table; serving drinks to customers wearing masks presents a plethora of challenges; and tribal casino HVAC systems are no better at filtering COVID-19 than any other regular air conditioning and heating system.

Some tribes and their gaming advocates say resiliency requires new tactics, relying on paths that some wealthier, established casino tribes have generally been hesitant to go down and have even lobbied against, including online gaming.

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