Restaurants, gaming to remain open at ilani during state restriction period


Casino does not have to adhere to the governor’s latest mandate.

There will be at least a few restaurants that will remain open in Southwest Washington during the four-week restriction period called for by the governor on Sunday.

The governor’s latest mandate does not affect ilani’s operations as the casino is on sovereign land, run by the Cowlitz Indian Tribe.

After closing for 70 days earlier in the pandemic, ilani officials say the casino will not close during the latest restriction period that the governor announced Sunday. Photo by Mike Schultz
After closing for 70 days earlier in the pandemic, ilani officials say the casino will not close during the latest restriction period that the governor announced Sunday. Photo by Mike Schultz

The entertainment destination will remain open during the four-week period of restrictions in the state, ilani announced Tuesday evening. That includes its restaurants. 

Kara Fox-LaRose, president and general manager said “ilani is poised to maintain operation with our extensive health and safety protocols in place, which have proven effective in avoiding significant outbreaks since our reopening back in May.”

The governor’s office, among other restrictions, closed indoor, dine-in service at restaurants and bars throughout the state through Dec. 14.

The Cowlitz Indian Tribe noted that ilani did voluntarily close for 70 days earlier in the year. That closure had a drastic impact on the tribe and surrounding communities.

Among the safety protocols at ilani are the powering off of several gaming machines, ensuring social distancing between guests. Photo by Mike Schultz
Among the safety protocols at ilani are the powering off of several gaming machines, ensuring social distancing between guests. Photo by Mike Schultz

Resources are allocated to tribal health care, education, elder programs, infrastructure improvements, and more, all of which put the Cowlitz people on the path of self reliance, according to the press release sent out by ilani.

“ilani is an essential tribal operation that keeps many of our other vital programs running,” said Philip Harju, chairman of the tribe. “Tribes are facing significant hardship in Washington State, and they and their businesses bear immense responsibilities in providing for their tribal members. Moreover, ilani helps the Cowlitz Tribe support important services and programs for our wider community.”

The tribe and ilani have instituted a number of safety measures to help protect all who visit the facility. Guests and team members are required to follow distancing guidelines and wear a face covering. Also, ilani banned smoking in July, and that ban remains in effect.

Other safety measures include:

  • Reduced and distance seating at all restaurants
  • Powering off gaming machines to allow for more distance between casino players.
  • Entrances equipped with thermal temperature checks.
  • Increased number of hand sanitizer stations.
  • Frequent sanitizing of all high-touch surfaces.
  • Plexiglass barriers throughout the property, including table games.

Approximately 1,500 people are employed at ilani, most of whom are non-tribal members.

Kara Fox-LaRose, president and GM of ilani, shown here earlier this year, said team members rely on ilani for their livelihoods, as do resident businesses, including restaurants and retailers. Therefore, ilani will not close during the state’s latest restrictions. Photo by Mike Schultz
Kara Fox-LaRose, president and GM of ilani, shown here earlier this year, said team members rely on ilani for their livelihoods, as do resident businesses, including restaurants and retailers. Therefore, ilani will not close during the state’s latest restrictions. Photo by Mike Schultz

“Our team members rely on ilani for their livelihoods, as do our resident businesses, including restaurants and retailers,” Fox-LaRose said, noting that ilani has become an integral part of the Southwest Washington community. “I’m very proud of the work we’ve done to ensure we can provide a safe and comfortable environment that brings joy to our guests and team members in challenging times.”

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