s the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak keeps impacting the U.S. casino industry, the American Gaming Association (AGA) provided new updates and details of its specific effects so far. As of Wednesday afternoon, nearly all (94%) of the country’s commercial casinos have shuttered their doors, in addition to 37% of tribal casinos. These mass closures have affected a staggering 96% of the casino workforce and will rob the U.S. economy of $21.3 billion in direct consumer spending if the casinos remain closed for the next eight weeks, AGA says.
Employees from every sector of the casino gaming industry – from commercial and tribal casino and sportsbooks to gaming equipment manufacturing to hospitality and restaurants and the small businesses that support us – have felt the repercussions of government-mandated property closures across the United States.
“U.S. casino gaming companies are doing their part to assist American workers during these unprecedented times. Despite mandatory shutdowns and a near economic standstill, gaming companies are working to pay employees and provide health insurance coverage for as long as possible,” AGA said in a statement.
“We support swift government action to protect the health and safety of American communities. But equally urgent action is needed to mitigate the dire impact these closures will have on hundreds of thousands of U.S. casino employees and the businesses that employ them. Government action is essential to ensure casino and resort staff and businesses weather the current storm and come through it as the reliable economic driver, job creator, and community partner they are in cities and states across our nation,” the association added.
In a matter of days, casinos in 36 states have shuttered their doors. 438 (94%) of the country’s commercial casinos, plus an additional 196 (37%) tribal casinos, have closed. These 635 casino closings represent nearly 2-in-3 (64%) of all gaming properties in the country.
As of this writing, casino closures affect nearly 534,000 casino gaming and resort employees or 96 percent of the total U.S. casino workforce. Casino closures risk nearly $59 billion in total wages annually for workers and their families.
This week’s casino closures will reverberate across local communities. Casino gaming generates $34.4 billion in annual total tax revenue and tribal revenue share in the 36 states with shuttered properties – essential support for local hospitals, first responders, and vital public services. Half the jobs the industry supports are at non-gaming businesses such as restaurants and local shops – all will be dramatically affected by a local casino’s closure. Casino gaming is vital to local small businesses, delivering $52 billion annually in small business revenue including construction, manufacturing, retail, and wholesale firms.
Casino gaming is an economic engine for dozens of local economies. If the 635 casinos stay closed for the next eight weeks, it will cost the U.S. economy $21.3 billion in direct consumer spending.
Furthermore, the impact to gaming businesses goes beyond the casino floor – it creates deep uncertainty impacting nearly two million Americans whose jobs are supported by gaming and disproportionately affects the operations of the entire hospitality industry.
In just the weeks leading up to recent, widespread business closures have caused:
Joining other states that ordered the closure of all casinos statewide, including Nevada and those reported this week by Yogonet (see here, here and here), and jurisdictions where gaming companies voluntarily shut down their properties, California's tribal casinos in San Diego County are shutting down temporarily starting Friday. Tribal government leaders of the Barona Band of Mission Indians, Campo Kumeyaay Nation, Jamul Indian Village, Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation and Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians Wednesday jointly announced that they are temporarily closing their casinos amid concerns over the Coronavirus (COVID-19) beginning on Friday at noon through the end of the month.
Pala Casino, Spa & Resort in northern San Diego County and Cahuilla Casino in Anza are the most recent casino properties to close their doors temporarily amid concerns over the novel coronavirus, officials for each of the casinos announced Wednesday. Eagle Mountain Casino has closed for the time being, beginning Wednesday morning, and will be closed through at least April 3.
Multiple casinos in Northern California are planning to close their doors temporarily as a precautionary measure to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. This includes big names like the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento and now the Thunder Valley Casino Resort. But there is a difference between how these two casinos are handling their employee benefits.
The Navajo Gaming Enterprise announced Tuesday the closing of all four of its casinos for three weeks beginning at noon that day in response to the ever growing concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.
In Oklahoma, the Osage Nation was to suspend operations at all seven of its casinos at midnight Wednesday night, officials announced Wednesday afternoon — two days after the Cherokee, Creek and Chickasaw tribes put their gaming operations on hold to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus. Osage casinos, along with adjacent hotels, will remain closed indefinitely while tribal officials “continue to monitor the situation at hand,” said Byron Bighorse, CEO of Osage Casinos.
Comanche Nation Entertainment also announced Tuesday that beginning March 18 at 12 a.m., its five gaming properties will temporarily close due to COVID-19 concerns. The locations will re-open on April 1 at 8 a.m.
Two other casinos in Oklahoma announced they are set to close along with the rest of their facilities, as well as postponing scheduled events due to concerns over the coronavirus. Tuesday, Indigo Sky Casino made a post on Facebook saying closure is set to begin March 18th, at 6:00 P.M. and last until April 2nd. Early Wednesday afternoon, Buffalo Run Casino also announced over social media they would be conducting their own temporary closure beginning at midnight, March 20th through March 31st.
Arizona’s leaders of the Tohono O’odham Nation and the Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise (TOGE) have also made the decision to suspend their gaming operations temporarily. All Desert Diamond Casino properties closed at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday. This includes all four of the tribal properties near Tucson, Sahuarita, Why, (Ajo) and the West Valley, in Glendale.
In Oregon, Three Rivers Casino Resort suspended operations in Florence and Coos Bay, effective from 5 p.m. Wednesday. The closure is scheduled to last through April 1. After consultations with state, federal and tribal authorities, the Coquille Tribal Council closed Wednesday midnight The Mill Casino-Hotel & RV Park for seven days. The Tribal Council said it will review the prevailing situation after the seven days to reevaluate the status of the facility.
In Idaho, the Nez Perce Tribal Enterprises was set to close its casino and lodge properties at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday because of concerns over potential transmission of the coronavirus. The closure of the Clearwater River Casino and It’se-Ye-Ye Casino will last until April 4 or further notice, it was announced on the Clearwater River Casino’s Facebook page. The closure includes the hotel, casino floor, bingo, cash cage, Players Club, golf shop, Qeqiit Restaurant and Yawwinma Cafe at the Clearwater River Casino property near Lewiston and the casino floor, cafe and Player’s Club at the It’se-Ye-Ye Casino property in Kamiah.
Florida Rep. Jackie Toledo is urging the Seminole Hard Rock Casino to close its doors to protect its employees. He has tweeted out that other Florida casinos have closed their doors amid coronavirus concerns, and she is now urging the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa to do the same.