Seminole casinos in Florida remain open for business despite a growing number of positive COVID-19 cases.
All six of the tribe’s casinos in the Sunshine State continue to welcome gamblers, though some health safety measures have been implemented. At Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, certain slot machines have been disabled in order to force “significant distance” between players, and the number of players at each table game has been limited.
The tribe has closed its poker rooms, along with all concerts and conventions. Restaurants are also closing every other table.
Seminole casinos in Florida are currently open and constantly monitoring the coronavirus situation,” said Seminole Hard Rock spokesman Gary Bitner.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida is one of the most powerful Native American communities in the nation. Among its six casinos is Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood, where the tribe recently completed its $1.5 billion guitar-shaped hotel.
The Florida Department of Health says there are 173 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, with 558 other people currently being monitored. The majority are located in two southeastern counties: Broward (43 cases) and Miami-Dade (32 cases).
Hard Rock Hollywood, Hollywood Seminole Gaming, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, and Seminole Casino Classic are all located in Broward County. Hard Rock Tampa is located in Hillsborough County, where there’s seven known cases of the deadly coronavirus.
“They need to close that place,” Millie Conard of Tampa told the Tampa Bay Times. Conrad says she visits the casino about once a month to play the slots. Another guest, Michelle Goodwin, said the casino “should close down for the safety of everyone that’s in the community.”
Seminole officials say they won’t, at least for now. Cautionary measures include the elimination of self-service utensils at buffets, and restricting casino team members from working who have recently traveled oversees by providing them with paid time off.
“We have no reports of actual or suspected coronavirus cases among our team members or guests,” Bitner added.
States across the country are ordering bars and restaurants to close, as well as non-essential businesses, such as casinos. At least 17 states now have at least one casino shut down in wake of the pandemic.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) issued an order Tuesday that all bars and nightclubs in the state close effective 5 p.m. this evening for 30 days. “We view that as something that could be problematic for spreading the virus. Stealth carriers – people who don’t have symptoms – but they are nevertheless passing along,” the governor explained.
The Seminole casinos do not have to follow the state government’s orders. Since the venues are Native American operations, they come with territorial sovereignty.
However, Connecticut’s two tribes – the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Indians – adhered to their governor’s wishes that they suspend operations at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.