Handful of Arizona Tribal Casinos Plan Phased Reopenings

Wild Horse Pass is among the Arizona Tribal casinos planning a phased reopening on May 15. (Courtesy Wild Horse Pass)

A number of Arizona Tribal casinos are planning phased reopenings beginning this week including Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, Fort McDowell Casino, and all three of Gila Rivers casino properties: Vee Quiva Casino, Lone Butte Casino, and Wild Horse Pass Casino.

The Gila River Indian Community’s properties, opening May 15, have highlighted extensive measures that will ensure the safety of guests and team members. The slot floor has been rearranged to accommodate social distancing as well as new non-smoking slot machine sections. Plexiglass has been installed in areas where guests will need to interact with team members. Gila River has also implemented a new Cleaning Ambassador program for increased sanitization.

“Our new Cleaning Ambassadors are increasing the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing in all public spaces. With an emphasis on frequented surfaces including, but not limited to, elevators and elevator buttons, door handles, public bathrooms, room keys and locks, ATMs, escalator and stair handrails, casino cage counters, gaming machines, gaming tables, dining surfaces and seating areas,” states the reopening Q&A section for the three Tribal casinos.

Employees will be tested for coronavirus before returning to work, and then retested every two weeks.

“We have taken every prudent measure and precaution to create a safe and clean environment,” Gila River Hotels & Casinos CEO Kenneth Manuel said in a statement.

READ MORE: From Slots to the C-Suite: Kenneth Manuel, Jr., CEO, Gila River Hotels & Casinos

The hotels at Wild Horse Pass and Vee Quiva are not scheduled to reopen until June 15.

Wild Horse Pass is among the Arizona Tribal casinos planning a phased reopening on May 15. (Courtesy Wild Horse Pass)

Fort McDowell Casino, owned and operated by the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, will begin its phased reopening on May 15 with limited blackjack, limited points of entry with temperature checks, and plexiglass barriers as well.

Floor decals have been installed throughout the property to assist guests with practicing social distancing, and COVID-19 training will be provided to team members.

“All Team Members will receive training on COVID-19 safety and sanitation protocols with more comprehensive training for teams with frequent guest contact,” reads the Fort McDowell reopening FAQs.

Fort McDowell Casino is among the Arizona Tribal casinos planning a phased reopening on May 15. (Courtesy Fort McDowell Casino)

Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, owned and operated by the Ak-Chin Indian Community, will also reopen on May 15 with slot machine banks arranged to allow for proper social distancing, and limited seating at blackjack tables. The Poker Room, Keno and BINGO will not be open.

Some food and beverage service will be offered, but the buffet will remain closed. The resort and tower guest rooms will also open on May 15 for stays beginning that evening depending on the number of reservations. The Events Center at Harrah’s Ak-Chin, including all events and conferences, Valet and Spa and Fitness Center will remain shuttered at this time.

“Over the past several weeks the Tribal Council, along with Caesars management, have been monitoring the situation here in Arizona and across the country, making sure we had the best and most accurate information needed to re-open the casino,” said Robert Livingston, general manager of Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming back our casino guests in the coming days.”

Casino Del Sol and Casino of the Sun, both in Tucson, Arizona and owned and operated by the Pascua Yaqui Tribe plan to reopen on May 21 at 8 a.m. with a number of enhanced cleaning measures.

The Tribe notes in its reopening plan that they “spent the time since March 19 modifying some of the physical features of the properties and developing procedures upon reopening that will ensure that the properties themselves together with our enhanced sanitization and cleaning practices meet or exceed recommendations made by health experts.”

This includes modifying the gaming floor to make social distancing easier and adding plexiglass barriers where guests are face-to-face with team members.

“Our goal is to disinfect each machine after a guest leaves the machine,” the Tribe says in its reopening plan. “To that end, we ask that you notify a slot attendant or a porter when you leave a machine so that we can sanitize it.”

Both Tribal casinos have additional hand sanitizer dispensers as well newly installed hands free paper towel and soap dispensers. 

Table game players and dealers will be required to wear masks and gloves and items like blackjack cards will be destroyed at the end of each gaming day.

Talking Stick Resort and Casino Arizona, both located in Scottsdale, Arizona and owned and operated by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, remain closed through the month of May.

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