Wind Creek’s gambling properties re-open to general public Monday
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Wind Creek Casino-Atmore has been dark and silent for more than two months. But the lights will come back on and the silence will be broken next Monday, June 8, when Wind Creek Hospitality re-opens each of its three Alabama gaming and resort properties.
WCH officials announced that all three of the company’s “new” Alabama-based gambling properties — in Atmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka — would open to the general public, with mandated safety restrictions and protocols, on June 8. (Wind Creek Hospitality is owned by Poarch Band of Creek Indians.)
The gaming properties will actually come back to life prior to Monday, as “soft openings” for small groups of invited guests are set to begin Thursday, June 4, with each of the three casino-driven complexes resuming full operations on Monday.
Ken Rohman, vice president of marketing for WCH, said the re-opening of the movie theater complex, bowling alley and arcade that adjoin the Atmore casino would not be immediate.
“For now, the entertainment center will be closed,” Rohman said in an email. “We hope to reopen those portions of the casino later this summer.”
Atmore Mayor Jim Staff said the Wind Creek re-opening will have local and area highways, especially Interstate 65 and Alabama 21, buzzing again with casino-related traffic. That traffic will bring hungry diners, hotel and motel guests and others onto the outskirts of town, where a majority of the city’s hotels and fast food establishments are located.
“It’s really going to be a great thing,” the mayor said. “It will bring a ton of folks to Atmore once again and it will put a ton of money into our economy. Poarch already puts a ton of money into our community; they’ve really been scattering it around.”
Several new policies and protocols — including temperature checks for all casino and hotel guests and employees, along with masks or face coverings for all patrons and employees — will be in place. Guests are asked to bring their own mask, but those who do not have their own will be able to acquire one for a small donation to support local first responders, healthcare providers and COVID-19 patient relief funds.
Another change: Smoking will now only be allowed in designated spots separate from the gaming floor, restaurants and other public areas at all three of WCH’s Alabama resort properties.
To meet social distancing requirements, all three properties will limit the number of guests on the casino floor to roughly one-third of normal operations. All Wind Creek Hospitality properties have increased distances between tables in dining venues and have clearly marked appropriate distances near hotel check-in desks, player services areas and other areas where lines traditionally form.
The casino floor will be open to the public for four sessions each day, with deep cleaning conducted between sessions. In addition, each machine will be disinfected before and after each guest plays it. Special waiting areas will be available for guests at each property that has reached capacity.
Because of the new restrictions, WCH is introducing a new reservation system that lets guests reserve space for a particular session up to 14 days in advance.
Jay Dorris, CEO & President of Wind Creek Hospitality, said the reservations aren’t required. They are, however, a means of guaranteeing space on the gambling floor for a particular day or time.
“Just like your favorite restaurant on a Friday night, a reservation isn’t required,” Dorris said in a press release. “But if you absolutely want to join us on a given day and time, reservations are available.”
Wind Creek officials hope the reservation system will eliminate lines that make it difficult to maintain a six-foot distance between patrons.
The reservation system is open to guests June 3.