Coronavirus: Seminole Casino Immokalee closes amid coronavirus concerns

Friday 20th March 2020

Rich Hull of Milwaukee, Wisconsin killed time playing penny slots at the Seminole Casino Hotel in Immokalee on Tuesday afternoon. At least a few hundred people were at the casino Tuesday, a day after it was revealed that a man who died of coronavirus over the weekend had visited the establishment in early March.

The Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee will close late Friday afternoon citing coronavirus concerns.

"With a primary focus on the health and safety of guests, team members and the public, the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Seminole Gaming have voluntarily decided to temporarily close all Seminole and Hard Rock Casinos throughout Florida today," Seminole Tribe officials said in a news release Friday afternoon.

"All Seminole casinos will close at 6 p.m. Hotel guests will be contacted directly to accommodate their current bookings and needs, wherever possible."

The Collier County venue is among six the tribe announced it was closing. The others are Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa; Seminole Casino Brighton; Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood; Seminole Casino Coconut Creek; and Seminole Classic Casino (Hollywood).

From earlier this week: Seminole Casino Hotel in Immokalee remains open despite visit from man who died of COVID-19

Plus: Lee County man who died of COVID-19 was a 'homebody' who hadn't traveled

"This decision was not taken lightly as Seminole Gaming employs nearly 14,000 Seminole Gaming team members in the state," the news release said. "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.

Earlier this week, the Daily News and News-Press reported that a part-time Lee County resident who died from the novel coronavirus had frequented the casino, including the weeks leading up to his death.

The popular venue had canceled its concerts and shows through mid-April.

Tracking the coronavirus in Collier County: Confirmed cases of COVID-19 balloon to 24

Canceled: What events in Southwest Florida are canceled, postponed because of the coronavirus?

Casino leaders this week had turned off many slot machines and limited the number of players at gaming tables to increase space between players, Gary Bitner, a spokesman for Seminole Gaming, told Daily News reporter Ryan Mills on Tuesday.

"It's essentially established a wider distance between players to promote that social distancing factor, which is meaningful," Bitner said.

Meanwhile, the Seminole Tribe in its Friday announcement said "the safety and security of its guests and team members are of the highest priority ..."

"The proactive measures put in place allowed Seminole Gaming to operate within the guidelines established by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, whom the Seminole Tribe wants to recognize and thank for his ongoing cooperation and leadership," the news release said.

'The Seminole Tribe of Florida and Seminole Gaming are very grateful to our loyal guests and team members. We look forward to welcoming everyone back soon."

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