MOHAVE VALLEY — Several Arizona casinos were partially reopening today with new sanitizing protocols and social distancing measures in place about two months after slot machines were shut down and gaming rooms were closed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Harrah’s Ak-Chin Hotel and Casino in Maricopa and Fort McDowell Casino near Fountain Hills were reopening at least partially this morning when Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order expires. The three casinos the Gila River Indian Community runs in the southern part of the greater Phoenix metropolitan area were set to resume partial operations at midday.
But there has been no official word yet on the planned reopening of Spirit Mountain Casino in Mohave Valley. The casino is operated by the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe. A message on Spirit Mountain’s website Thursday gave no indication of the facility’s immediate plans.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the casino is closed until further notice,” the notice said. “We value your health & safety above all else and will reopen at the appropriate time.”
Likewise, there has been no announcement on when the BlueWater Resort & Casino, operated by the Colorado River Indian Tribe in Parker, will reopen.
“The Resort Hotel Casino is temporarily closed,” said a message on the BlueWater website. “Updates will be posted when reservation may be taken. Please continue to check back for further updates.”
The Ak-Chin Tribal Council approved the reopening of its casino, with slot machine banks arranged to allow for social distancing and limited seating at blackjack tables. Poker, keno and bingo games are not resuming yet.
“We look forward to welcoming back our casino guests,” Robert Livingston, the casino’s general manager, said in a statement.
Along with instituting new social distancing and sanitizing measures, the casino that belongs to the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation will conduct temperature checks using handheld scanners and thermal cameras. Anyone with a reading over 100 will be denied entry.
On its website, Gila River Hotels & Casinos is encouraging visitors to “Reclaim Your Fun” at the Lone Butte and Wild Horse Pass casinos near Chandler and the Vee Quiva in Laveen.
“We are so excited to welcome you back. It’s time to reclaim your time, freedom and fun,” the online message says. “We’ve taken extensive measures to ensure the safety of our guests.”
The Gila River site said casinos would have new non-smoking sections on slot machine floors that observe social distancing and hard plastic shields had been installed in key areas including the cashier cage and some dining venues. Hand sanitizing stations were being prepared at entrances and social distancing will be encouraged throughout with signs and marks on the floor.
Visitors will be asked whether they have any symptoms like a fever or dry cough and will be encouraged to wear masks. Fewer people will be allowed in the gaming areas at the same time.
As for other casinos around Arizona, Bucky’s & Yavapai Casinos in Prescott Valley announced this week they will reopen June 1.
Mazatzal Hotel & Casino in Payson Tuesday extended its shutdown, but did not specify a reopening date. The website for the Desert Diamond Casinos in Glendale, Tucson and Sahuarita does not say when they will reopen.
Talking Stick Resort and Casino and Casino Arizona near Scottsdale previously announced they would remain closed through May. They said the owner and operator, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, was fully compensating staff during the closure.
Cliff Castle Casino in Camp Verde and Twin Arrows Casino Resort in Flagstaff say they will remain closed for now.
Arizona’s Department of Gaming has said each casino’s decision to close is being decided by the individual sovereign tribal nations.
Casinos remain closed in Las Vegas and the rest of Nevada, where the economy is heavily dependent on gambling and tourism in general. Nevada gambling officials last week approved rules to limit customers, keep gamblers spaced apart from each other and disinfect dice and cards when the state’s casinos do reopen.
But Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak has said gambling venues will not be among businesses restarting activities during the first phase of Nevada’s reopening.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.