By Mark Smith
Editor in Chief
NASCAR and the PGA are back, football futures haven’t left and the NBA, hopefully, is coming soon.
And if you’re champing at the bit to get down some sports wagers, the state’s best sportsbook has announced it will tentatively reopen in early July — on the heels of the Route 66 Casino Hotel opening on Saturday (June 27).
Laguna Development Corporation (LDC), the primary business entity for the Pueblo of Laguna, made the announcement this afternoon.
“Since we opened last year, The Book, has become a popular part of the overall visitor experience at Route 66,” said Skip Sayre, LDC corporate director of marketing.
“We are working now to prepare the venue for sports wagering as part of our Phase II re-opening plan on or around Saturday July 11. The Stadium Sports Bar and Grill will open during Phase I on June 27.”
The Book and Stadium 66 are a Las Vegas-style setting that is the best sportsbook/restaurant/sports bar in the state. It has a multi-million dollar sound system and more than 70 HD TV screens.
The Route 66 Casino/Hotel and RV Resort are located off Interstate 40 Exit 140 west of
The company’s Dancing Eagle Casino will remain temporarily closed. Both properties have been closed since March 18th due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The public reopening at Route 66 will be preceded by a three-day “invitation only” opening for invited guests.
Maxine Velasquez, LDC President and CEO, said the reopening has following 12 weeks of planning.
“Under direction of the Pueblo of Laguna and the COVID-19 guidelines by
the State of New Mexico, we are excited to announce the reopening of one of New Mexico’s most popular gaming destinations.
“Operations will be limited as we carefully consider all aspects of welcoming our guests back under strict health and safety protocols. We have instituted a series of recommendations from federal and state regulatory agencies as well as New Mexico and Laguna officials. COVID Safe Practices, including the wearing of masks by guest and employees, will be strictly enforced.
“Extensive employee training and a re-configuration of our casinos and restaurants have prepared us to welcome customers back to enjoy the quality, service and value they’ve come to expect from us for more than twenty years.”
The announcement comes after the Pueblo of Laguna agreed to amend the Executive Order issued in March that has closed most of the Pueblo to visitors to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We have worked with the LDC team to ensure they have taken every precaution and instituted all available mitigation measures to protect our guests, employees and tribal community as we get back to business,” said Pueblo of Laguna Governor Wilfred Herrera.
“LDC is a critical part of the revenue that goes to ensure the health and welfare of our tribal members, its programs and services.”
The reopening of limited, casino, restaurant and hotel operations, in line with capacity
restrictions currently in place in the state of New Mexico, will initially allow more than 500 of the 746 employees, placed on temporary furlough since April, to come back to work.
“As operations are ramped up over the next several weeks, we anticipate bringing back all the employees who were furloughed,” said Velasquez.
- Capacity restrictions will be in place in casinos, restaurants and the hotel
located at Route 66. Venues where large groups would gather will remain temporarily closed including Legends Theater, banquet/conference meeting rooms, Kids Quest/Cyber Quest and swimming pool areas.
- All visitors will be temperature screened upon entry. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4F or higher will not be admitted. All guests and employees will be required to wear masks while on property.
- At Route 66 several restaurants will be open including the Stadium 66 Sports Bar and Grill, Johnny Rockets, the 66 Snack Bar and Thunder Road Steakhouse and Cantina. Buffet 66 will remain temporarily closed.
- The 154-room hotel at Route 66 Casino will re-open at 50 percent capacity with additional cleaning and sanitation in place including a complimentary PPE package for each hotel guest.
- The 100-space Route 66 RV Resort will reopen at 50 percent capacity.