The questions are oh-so-2020 – do we reopen casinos to save jobs? Or keep them closed as new coronavirus cases rise in Arizona and New Mexico?
That is the dilemma facing the Navajo Nation this week. On Monday, the Navajo Nation Council voted to approve a proposal by the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise to reopen four casinos that have been shuttered since March.
The four facilities are: Northern Edge Casino in Upper Fruitland, N.M., Flowing Water Casino in Hogback, N.M., Fire Rock Casino near Gallup, N.M., and Twin Arrows Casino Resort near Flagstaff, Arizona.
Officials for the Gaming Enterprise said approximately 1,200 jobs are at risk of being lost if the casinos do not open by the end of the month. They said their reopening plan would follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health departments in the two states, the National Indian Gaming Commission and other agencies.
The Navajo Department of Health, on the other hand, said the tribal areas are experiencing a surge in COVID cases, and warned against reopening.
The bill now goes to tribal President Jonathan Nez, who will have 10 days to sign or veto the legislation.