fter nearly two months of being shut down due to COVID-19 outbreak, several Arizona casinos are starting to reopen with new safety measures in place.
Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino in Maricopa, Fort McDowell Casino near Fountain Hills and Gila River's three casinos all plan to reopen on Friday, with limited facilities and new health guidelines.
Harrah's casino floor, operated by the Ak-Chin Indian Community, will open 9 a.m. May 15 with “social distance measures for the health and safety of casino guests and employees,” according to a news release, as reported by AZ Central. Slot machines will be spaced apart and blackjack tables will have limited seating. Hotel rooms will open that evening as well. Hand sanitizing stations will be available and employees will wear masks. The poker room, keno and Bingo are not yet opening. The events and conference center, spa and fitness center also will remain closed.
Fort McDowell Casino plans to open “one step at a time” paired with an “aggressive new health and sanitation program.” Blackjack will restart on Friday and Bingo will begin on May 22. The casino is waiting on federal, state and health agency guidance before reopening poker, according to its website.
Visitors to the casino will be temperature-checked before entry. Employees and guests with temperatures over 100°F will not be allowed to enter. Plexiglass shields will be installed at counters and floor markings will encourage guests to stand six feet apart. Tables and slot machines will be placed apart and employees will be provided with masks, gloves and COVID-19 training.
Gila River’s three casinos — Wild Horse Pass and Lone Butte near Chandler, and Vee Quiva near Laveen — will all reopen at noon on Friday. Gila River casinos will limit the number of seats at table games and Bingo sessions. Slot machines are spaced apart with plexiglass shields between machines for social distancing.
Employees will use enhanced cleaning methods for high-touch areas and all machines. They will be tested for COVID-19 before returning to work and will be retested every two weeks. “We have taken every prudent measure and precaution to create a safe and clean environment,” CEO Kenneth Manuel said in a released statement.
Talking Stick Resort and Casino Arizona in Scottsdale will remain closed until June 1, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community announced last week. Mazatzal Hotel & Casino in Payson extended their closure to May 15 and plan to reopen on May 16, according to its website, but those reopening plans have not been officially announced. Other Arizona casinos have not yet announced reopening dates.
Casinos temporarily closed over the course of several days in mid-to-late March as the new coronavirus spread in Arizona. The decision to close was decided individually by each sovereign tribal nation, according to the Arizona Department of Gaming.