All Seminole and Hard Rock casinos in Florida closed Friday 6 p.m. amid the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, The Seminole Tribe of Florida and Seminole Gaming announced in a news release.
“This decision was not taken lightly as Seminole Gaming employs nearly 14,000 Seminole Gaming team members in the state,” the news release stated. “The goal has been to protect their livelihood without jeopardizing public safety. We have now reached a point where we do not feel comfortable taking that risk.”
The move affects the following casinos: Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa; Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood; Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee; Seminole Casino Brighton; Seminole Casino Coconut Creek; and Seminole Classic Casino (Hollywood).
Effective March 20, Hard Rock International said in a release that it would temporarily close all company-owned Hard Rock Cafe locations internationally, and select Hard Rock Hotel and Hard Rock Hotel and Casino locations in the U.S. and abroad.
The Seminole casinos join other establishments in temporarily closing, including Tampa Bay Downs, Calder Casino in Miami Downs, the Casino at Gulfstream Park, the Big Easy Casino in Hallandale Beach, and the Casino @ Dania Beach.
The decision comes after Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, admonished the casino for remaining open and not doing enough to help in efforts to contain coronavirus.
“I’m demanding that Seminole Hard Rock join with other businesses and close their doors for the next 30 days,” said Toledo during a Wednesday news conference outside the Seminole Hard Rock Cafe. “Heed the advice of public health officials, protect your employees like Disney and Universal have, show you care about our community as much as you are showing you care about the bottom line.”
In a statement Friday, Toledo praised the casinos for their decision to shut down. “I'm extremely pleased that the Seminole Tribe, and the leadership of the Seminole Hard Rock, decided to temporarily close its doors,” Toledo said in a release. “The health and well-being of our community is of the utmost importance as we battle this pandemic and operating the casino presents a health risk to workers, patrons, and our community at-large.
“I want to thank everyone who reached out to our office to support this closure and to those who offered insight into the potential dangers of continuing to operate the casino at this time. I am hopeful the Seminole Hard Rock will continue to prioritize their employees and provide financial assistance while the doors are closed,” he added.
It’s unclear when the casinos will reopen. Affected hotel guests were set to be contacted to accommodate their current bookings and needs.