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Blue Chip Casino to reopen and help boost local economy

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. - The Blue Chip Casino is a huge economic driver for Michigan City. Although the coronavirus pandemic shut it down, the casino is making a comeback this Monday, June 15th.

Business owners, excited for tourism to return.

“It’s very important because it brings a lot of tourism to our town. A lot of money from the casino,” Jessie Cundiff, the owner of Hoity Toity Home Décor in Michigan City.

The Blue Chip Casino brings thousands of people to Michigan City each year. But because of COVID-19 both the casino and its hotels have been closed down.

“I can tell you the first quarter of our year, we were going very strong and so when this happened and we had to close. It was like going 60 mph to a dead stop,” Brenda Temple, the Vice President and General Manager of Blue Chip said.

Until now. Today marks stage 4 of Governor Holcomb’s Back on Track plan to reopen the state. Casinos including Blue Chip can now open their doors, with a lot of added precautions

“Frequent hand sanitizing in the casino, we’ll be cleaning the chips weekly on our table games. We’ll be sanitizing every time a guest comes to the table at a table game,” Temple said.

Thermal imaging checking temperatures and security checking ID's will be at every entrance.

Social distancing markers and closed off machines will help keep folks apart.

“Frequent hand washing is required in most of our areas and there are different time frames, some areas it’s an hour some areas it’s every two hours.”

Unlike other casinos, Blue Chip has much looser restrictions. For example, masks are not required for guests excepts for those who are at the table games although they can be supplied with one and smoking is allowed.

“We were recirculating 4 times an hour we are going to be changing that to 8 times an hour upon reopening so that’s one of the things that mitigate smoking,” Temple said.

Social distancing will be followed with some machines closed to follow those requirements, meaning they will be going down to 726 slot machines.

Now the poker room, buffet pool and gift shop will remain closed.

The Blue Chip tower will also be closed but the Spa Blue tower will be operating with restrictions.

The deli, the game and the steakhouse will be open at 75% customers.

And the fan dual sportsbook will also be open for guests to bet on sports.

There will be cleaning crews on premises throughout the day and there will be a deep clean overnight.

“Prior to the closure we were open 24 hours a day. We’ll be closing at 3 o’clock in the morning every single day and that’s so we can sanitize the casino 100%. We’ll be opening back up at 8 o’clock,” she said.

With Blue Chip opening back up for guests Monday and Lighthouse Premium Outlet already reopened, two of the biggest economic drivers for the city will be back up and running.

“They affect all of our community businesses substantially,” Renee Fennell, owner of Paris House of Bridal in Michigan City said.

Local business owners say it's huge.

“Those people don’t just stay in the casino they come, and they eat at our restaurants and our bars and shop at our stores,” Cundiff said. “It helps my business. I’m a cross through between the outlet mall and the casino so when they’re traveling from one to the other, they spot me and stop.”

The President of the Chamber of Commerce said Blue Chip provides a much-needed boost to Michigan City’s economy and that many of who visit the casino are also going to be visiting the city.

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