If New York is the City That Never Sleeps, then Foxwoods is the Casino That Never Closes.
There is an urban legend that the casino had planned to close at 2 a.m. on its first day of operation. But since several thousand table game players were in no hurry to leave (there were no slots until 1993), casino officials and the tribe decided it would more practical, and profitable, to make Foxwoods a 24-hour operation.
As a result, since its grand opening in 1992, Foxwoods has never closed. And not even Hurricane Irene could end the streak Sunday.
While the hurricane-turned-tropical storm stymied the East Coast all weekend, completely closing down Atlantic City casinos, NYC transit systems, highways and airports in the process, Foxwoods was open for business. Not exactly business as usual, but the best one could hope for in light of this Act of God.
"Light" is the operative word. Casino staffing was light because of weather and unsafe traveling conditions, causing the closing of several restaurants and retail shops.
Then heavy winds caused lights to go out property-wide Sunday morning. Backup generators restored some electricity, allowing the Grand Pequot and MGM casino and World Poker Tournament room to remain open.
The Festival Buffet, Dunkin Donuts and Fay Da Bakery were the only food outlets operating.
Liquid Sundays, the summer outdoor pool party at MGM with a celebrity DJ, was canceled because this was a liquid Sunday of a different sort.
The Mashantucket Tribe postponed Saturday’s Green Corn Pow Wow early last week with a makeup date of Sept. 16-18. Foxwoods’ promotions department conducted a luggage gift giveway for invited patrons, drawing 1,800 out of an expected 9,000. The makeup date for those who could not attend is Wednesday, 4-8 p.m.
Two Trees Hotel, just off the casino property, was closed all weekend in anticipation of the hurricane. Foxwoods’ Cedar and Pequot hotels lost electricity and hot water Sunday.
Most guests evacuated but some chose to stay.
A New Jersey couple said, “staying here is preferable to driving home in this mess.” Not a bad idea for them considering I-95 was closed to traffic from Rhode Island to New York Sunday morning.
On Monday, Foxwoods moved closer to normalcy with the return of additional power sources. Hotels, stores and morning bingo were open as were Grand Pequot, Rainmaker, Cedar and Festival casinos and Lake of Isles golf course. The $25 gas card giveaway for invited guests will commence 4-8 p.m. at Grand Pequot Ballroom.
Despite the power punch from Mother Nature, Foxwoods stayed on its feet.
"It's remarkable given the trying circumstances that we were able to give 5-star service to the guests that were here," one Foxwoods departmental manager said.
Today, it's business as usual. All the lucky guests need to do is find a gas station with power.