The fear of spreading the novel coronavirus has taken a huge toll on the casino industry throughout the country, but it hasn’t affected a small group in Florida. Ninety-six percent of the commercial casinos throughout the country are closed, but the Seminole Tribe in Florida has continued to operate.
The fact that some Seminole Hard Rock Casinos have remained open in the state is starting to anger many citizens and local and state government leaders. Florida is one of the states that has been hit the hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Seminole Headquarters was forced to close for a week earlier this month after an employee tested positive for the COVID-19 strain of the disease. After cleaning up their business, it re-opened, and all six of the Hard Rock Casinos located throughout the state have remained open.
Most tribal casinos throughout the state and country have heeded the warnings given out by state and local government, but the Seminole Tribe continues to stay open. The Seminole Tribe is one of the strongest and most powerful tribes in the United States, and they are not controlled by the government, meaning they can make their own decisions.
State representative Jackie Toledo has been one of the most outspoken critics of the Seminole Tribe keeping their doors open. Toledo has asked Governor Ron DeSantis to force the casinos to shut down, but there is only so much that the government can do.
There is a chance that the Federal Government can step in and force the Seminole Tribe to shut down their operations, but that appears unlikely at this point as well.
Tribes are subject to federal law, but no law allows the federal government to take control of tribal property. A law would have to be passed that gives them this power, and that is a problem for two reasons.
This would create a hugely political issue that would divide our country, and most lawmakers are currently not in session as they are also trying to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The Seminole Tribe does have plenty of supporters in the state of Florida as well.
A group of people is happy that the Seminole Tribe is continuing to stay open and not allow the government to disrupt their daily life. The Seminole Tribe has not been publicly commenting on the issue besides expressing how they have changed some of their operating practices.
Seminoles Have Changed Operating Practices
On Monday, the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa announced that they were shutting down their poker room in an effort to stop the coronavirus from spreading. They also decided to limit the number of players at table games and closed down some of their gambling machines.
This is to create some distance and separation between their customers. Spokesman Gary Bitner announced that Hard Rock Casino Tampa was constantly monitoring the situation, and they were planning to make any necessary changes that they see fit in the coming weeks.
The Seminole Hard Rock Tampa already made the decision to postpone many scheduled entertainment events, including concerts and shows. Other Hard Rock Casino venues throughout the state have made the same decision.
Restaurants have also been shut down of late, but they are closed just at every other table. Hand sanitizers are available throughout the casinos, and they have made disinfectant wipes available to any customer that requests them.
Extra workers have been hired to keep common surfaces cleaned and disinfected, but they are still planning to keep their doors open for now.