By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Cherokee Tribal Bingo has been closed for almost a year now due to COVID-19, and officials state it will remain closed through at least the end of June.
“The current plan for Tribal Bingo is to remain closed for the next few months,” said Rhoda Bigmeat, Tribal Bingo general manager. “We are tentatively scheduled to open no sooner than July 1, 2021, but those plans are subject to change as we continue to monitor the current health risks and operational concerns.”
When it does re-open, safety for patrons and employees will be the number one concern. Bigmeat noted, “The same safety guidelines that are in place in our other gaming establishments will be in place when we are able to open – mandatory masks, sanitizing protocols, social distancing, capacity limits, etc. – as well as other guidelines that will be more specific to us due to the nature of our business such as directional signage, possible changes in the hours of operation, etc.”
Like many businesses nationwide that have been hit with hardships due to COVID-19, Tribal Bingo is no different. “Unfortunately, because of the closure, the majority of our employees are currently furloughed. But, it is our hope to provide employment and revenue to the Tribe as soon as it is safe to do so. We are in communication with both Tribal Council and the Executive Office to ensure we are working together to make the best decision for the EBCI.”
Annually, the Tribal Bingo operation contributes levy payments to the Tribe. According to information from the EBCI Office of Budget and Finance, Tribal Bingo paid the following levy amounts in the past several years:
* 2017: $25,342.59
* 2018: $23,395.72
* 2019: $21,362.58
*2020 (partial year): $4,339.61
The Tribal Bingo building served the community recently though as it was used as the station for a COVID-19 vaccination clinic set up by the EBCI Mass Vaccination Team (MVT). According to information from the MVT, a total of 1,252 people were vaccinated at the event held on Wednesday, Feb. 10.
The number of employees at the Tribal Bingo was not provided to the One Feather by press time.