Thunder Valley casino relents, says it will pay workers during coronavirus shutdown

Sam Stanton
·2 min read

Thunder Valley Casino Resort announced Wednesday that it will pay its 2,500 furloughed workers through the end of this month while the casino is closed because of coronavirus fears, and will continue their health benefits at least through the end of April.

“Like other casinos in the region, Thunder Valley will continue to pay team members through the end of the March and reassess at that time,’ spokesman Doug Elmets said in an announcement that was to be shared with employees on Wednesday. “In addition, the team members will have the umbrella of benefits they have chosen, including medical, dental vision until the end of April, at which time we will reassess.”

Thunder Valley, the largest casino in the Sacramento region, is closing temporarily on Friday over the spread of COVID-19.

It joins many other casinos in shutting down but, until Wednesday, had not planned to continue paying workers as other casinos have said they would. That sparked harsh criticism online from employees and gamblers who said the casino should follow the example of the others.

Hard Rock casino closes

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain became the latest casino to announce it is closing, saying on Wednesday it will close Friday through the end of March because of coronavirus concerns, the last major tribal casino in the region to do so.

“Our highest commitment is to the safety and well-being of our guests, team members and partners,” said Glenda Nelson, Chairwoman of the Enterprise Rancheria Tribe. “We have been working closely with local, state and Tribal authorities to monitor this situation and ensure we have consistently implemented procedures to meet all requirements related to COVID-19.

“As the largest employer in Yuba Sutter Counties, we have invested significantly in this region and believe it best to adopt this measure at this time.”

Hard Rock, which is located in Wheatland and already had canceled entertainment programs through April 15, said it will continue to monitor developments and continue to pay workers.

“We will continue to provide compensation and full health benefits to all our team members during this temporary closure period,” Hard Rock President Mark Birtha said. “We are focused on the well-being of our team and this means a continued commitment to payroll, benefits and appropriate health and welfare measures which are paramount.

“Our employees come from right here in the Sacramento area, with over 70% coming from Yuba and Sutter counties.”

The casino joins Thunder Valley in Lincoln, Jackson Rancheria in Jackson, Cache Creek in Brooks and Harrah’s in Ione in closing because of COVID-19. None have confirmed cases of the disease.

Other casinos throughout California also have closed, and on Tuesday Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered the closure of all casinos in his state.