Casinos state-wide close to promote social distancing

Coronavirus New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Pueblos, tribes and nations aren’t playing the odds when it comes to crowds at their casinos and many have decided to close to promote social distancing and keep the coronavirus from spreading.

The slot machines and blackjack tables are empty at all three casinos on the Pojoaque Pueblo. “We are God willing taking actions now to prevent it from even coming into the Pueblo,” says Gov. Joseph Talachy

Governor of the Pueblo of Pojoaque Joseph Talachy says they’ve shut down Buffalo Thunder Resort Casino, Cities of Gold Casino and Jake’s Casino for at least two weeks in an effort to keep the coronavirus from spreading.

“From an operational standpoint, the sooner we shut down, the sooner we let this thing blow over. The sooner we can get back on track and get back to normal business operations,” Talachy says.

Casinos statewide have made the move to close, some for two weeks to 30 days. Talachy admits closing the casino doors is costly for any of the pueblos.

“I can’t go to bed with a clean conscience thinking we stayed opened to make a buck while people were dying. So we made the conscious decision to say ‘Hey hey no.’ We do what’s right by people first. Business first, people second,” Talachy says.

He believes keeping patrons safe is a top priority.

“We implemented a meals-on-wheels policy so if they need anything I’ve told them give me a call, give our police departments call and we will get you what you need,” Talchy says.

Talchy says they’ve re-purposed one of the casino’s kitchen’s to make it happen.

“We’re using Buffalo Thunder’s commercial kitchen to cook these meals and help deliver them to our elders and our young people,” Talchy says.

Tribal leaders tell us staff members will be paid during the two week closure period. While the Pojoaque casinos have closed, officials tell us Buffalo Thunder is still taking hotel reservations but not scheduling any large private events.

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