San Diego County blinks first, agreeing to let local tribes reopen casinos

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Border Report) — San Diego County has the most tribal-operated casinos per capita than any other county in the United States.

All have been closed since March to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In recent days, some have announced plans to reopen next week, but the County of San Diego was none too happy with the idea and initially took a hard stance.

“We are very concerned, we want to make it perfectly clear, we do not agree with reopening of the casinos,” said County of San Diego’s Health Director Wilma Wooten.

Her comments were made late Wednesday afternoon.

“Opening up casinos will cause a risk for our public health that’s very clear, it creates gatherings of individuals.”

One of the casinos planning on opening early next week is Sycuan, operated by the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, has already spent time and money disinfecting and spreading a protective coating on dining and gaming areas to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus once it reopens.

“We disagree with any legal interpretation that allows the county any jurisdiction over activities on a tribal reservation,” Assistant Tribal Manager Adam Day wrote in an email to Border Report.

Wooten had said her office and the County of San Diego would work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to try and convince the casinos to reconsider.

But it appears Day, Sycuan’s Tribal government and other Tribes have prevailed in this stalemate.

After extended talks, the county has decided to not stand in the way of the casinos revamping operations.

“The County recognizes that our Tribal Nations have sovereign authority, we’ll work with them to implement strategies they have outlined in their plan,” said Wooten late today.

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher took it a step further.

“I’m not going to be part of long history of white man oppressing Indians, it is not my place to tell casinos what to do,” Fletcher said during the county’s daily COVID-19 briefing.

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