Foxwoods Casino Opens COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic, Pledges to Administer 1 Million+ Doses by July

  • The Connecticut casino has set up the facility in partnership with Hartford Healthcare
  • The site can administer 600 doses per day, with intentions to increase this to 1,000
  • Despite criticism for reopening in 2020, the state's two gaming tribes have now opened clinics
  • Governor Lamont is currently renegotiating tribal compacts to include iGaming and sports betting
Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut
Foxwoods Casino (pictured above) in Connecticut has opened a COVID-19 vaccination clinic through which it has pledged to administer more than one million doses by July. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

From casino to clinic

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in Connecticut has joined in the fight against COVID-19, opening a new mass vaccination clinic at its Foxwoods Resorts Casino in Mashantucket.

a terrific moment for us to dramatically improve access”

Foxwoods announced the news in a statement on Monday. The casino partnered with Hartford Healthcare to open the clinic in the valet lobby of its Rainmaker Casino, which will be one of seven Hartford vaccination facilities operating in the state. Jeff Flacks, Hartford CEO, described the Foxwoods launch as “a terrific moment for us to dramatically improve access.”

Currently, the clinic can administer 600 vaccinations per day, but organizers intend to raise this to 1,000 when doses become available. The casino said it intends to reach more than one million shots by July this year. Available vaccines include Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

A joint tribal effort

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe hold a monopoly over Connecticut casino gambling, with the latter operating its Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville. Both tribes came under fire after they decided to reopen in early June 2020 despite the state’s health emergency closure orders.

Governor Ned Lamont had criticized the tribes’ disregard of public safety at the time. He attempted to dissuade potential casino visitors by planting highway signs on roads near the properties shortly after they reopened. The signs read “DON’T GAMBLE W/COVID” and “AVOID LG. INDOOR GATHERINGS.”

Despite previous criticism, both tribes have now backed state vaccination efforts by opening on-site clinics. In addition to the Foxwoods facility, the Mohegan Sun casino began its own mass vaccination operation in February through a partnership with Yale New Haven Health System. The facility is located inside the venue’s Earth Expo and Convention Center.

James Gessner, chairman of the Mohegan Tribe, said at the time that the organization always adhered to a “long-held philosophy of cooperation.” On Monday, Foxwoods CEO Jason Guyot told Fox61 that he hopes the rollout of vaccinations will increase confidence, allowing consumers to “experience those things they’ve been dying to do for a year.”

Lamont renegotiates compacts

Although Governor Lamont opposed the tribes’ controversial decision to reopen last year, he has backed plans to expand their gambling offerings in 2021. His intention is to legalize sports wagering and iGaming for the two tribal casinos by renegotiating the current gambling compacts.

literally on the one-inch line”

Last week, Lamont announced that he had reached a deal with the Mohegan Tribe to permit sports wagering and iGaming at Mohegan Sun. The governor is yet to agree on a similar compact amendment with the Mashantucket Pequot. Group chairman Rodney Butler has described the tribe as “literally on the one-inch line” of penning an arrangement.

Following the news, members of the eastern Connecticut legislative delegation have urged the governor to form an agreement with both tribes. The 17 legislators told Lamont they could not support an “incomplete deal” which excludes the Mashantucket Pequot. Meanwhile, Butler described Lamont’s announcement as “extremely disrespectful” to his organization.