A quick list of latest Phoenix-area casino safety measures as COVID-19 cases spike

·4 min read

Some Phoenix-area casinos are tightening safety measures as Arizona's COVID-19 cases climb.

Several Phoenix-area casinos, including Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino, Gila Rivers Hotels & Casinos and Fort McDowell Casino, reopened immediately after Gov. Doug Ducey lifted his stay-at-home order in mid-May.

Other casinos, such as Desert Diamond Casino West Valley, Talking Stick Casino and Casino Arizona, opted for later reopenings. Talking Stick Casino and Casino Arizona reopened on June 1, and Desert Diamond Casino West Valley resumed business on June 5.

Now, some of the casinos that quickly reopened have announced they will implement additional restrictions and protocols.

Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Casino

Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Casino, which are both operated by the Salt River Pima–Maricopa Indian Community, reopened with some of the strictest safety measures as cases in Arizona were beginning to rise.

The casinos implemented temperature checks for guests, banned smoking and required guests to wear masks. Guests or employees who have temperatures at or above 100.4 degrees are not allowed entry.

Additionally, valet services are temporarily suspended and the casinos encouraged social distancing by limiting public seating throughout their properties.

The casinos have not taken any additional safety measures since reopening.

"We took great care and the necessary time to implement a phased reopening plan with new protocols that will keep (customers') health and safety top of mind across all facets of our operations," said Ramon Martinez, director of public relations for the casinos, in a press statement at the time of reopening.

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Desert Diamond Casino West Valley

Desert Diamond Casino West Valley, which is operated by the Tohono O'odham Nation, also opened with stricter safety measures as coronavirus cases in Arizona began to rise. The casino is enforcing social distancing and requiring all employees and guests to wear masks.

The casino also reopened with limited hours and capacity. It is open from 10 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. While the casino is closed, it is cleaned and disinfected.

Customers' temperatures are checked at the door, and anyone presenting a temperature of more than 100.4 degrees is refused entry. Employees' temperatures are checked daily.

The casino has not taken any additional safety steps since reopening. Treena Parvello, a spokeswoman for the Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise, said the casino will "continue to update these protocols as necessary."

"Desert Diamond Casinos is constantly monitoring its safety protocols, as well as recommendations from health authorities," she said. "Our focus during this unprecedented time is to providing highest standards and the safest possible environment for our guests and team members.”

Fort McDowell Casino

A casino employee takes the temperature of a person waiting in line to enter on May 15, 2020, at Fort McDowell Casino near Fountain Hills.
A casino employee takes the temperature of a person waiting in line to enter on May 15, 2020, at Fort McDowell Casino near Fountain Hills.

Fort McDowell Casino, operated by the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, initially reopened with signs encouraging social distancing. The casino checked guests' temperatures at the door and encouraged patrons to wear face coverings. That has changed, as masks now are required.

On June 21, the casino announced it would close between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. Sunday through Thursday to deep-clean its facility. It continues to be open for slots and blackjack 24 hours a day on Friday and Saturday.

The new safety measures will remain in place through July 21.

Gila River Hotels & Casinos

Gila River Hotels & Casinos, which operates Lone Butte and Wild Horse Pass casinos near Chandler and Vee Quiva casino near Laveen, initially reopened on May 15. The casinos, which are run by Gila River Indian Community, promised to institute new safety measures when they reopened, including encouraging patrons to wear masks.

The casinos closed again at 2 a.m. on June 18, with casino and tribal leaders announcing that they would remain shuttered for two weeks while additional safety measures were considered.

According to a released statement, the casinos will use the closure to implement new safety measures, including:

  • Disinfection procedures.

  • Social distancing measures.

  • Health checks.

  • Testing protocols.

  • Masking guidelines.

The announcement came a week after a security guard at Lone Butte Casino died of complications related to COVID-19, according to his family.

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Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino

Harrah's Ak-Chin Hotel and Casino in Maricopa is celebrating 25 years.
Harrah's Ak-Chin Hotel and Casino in Maricopa is celebrating 25 years.

Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino in Maricopa initially reopened with distanced slot machine and limited seating at blackjack tables. The casino, which is owned by the Ak-Chin Indian Community, also required employees to wear masks.

Now, Harrah's will require customers to wear face coverings, too. Caesars Entertainment, which operates the property, announced on Wednesday that patrons at its 55 worldwide locations will need to wear masks at all time while indoors, unless eating or drinking.

The casino is located in Pinal County, which passed a mandate on Wednesday encouraging residents to wear face masks while in public spaces.

The poker room, keno and bingo have yet to reopen. Additionally, the resort's events and conference center, valet, spa and fitness center remain closed.

Have a question or tip? Reach the reporter Sasha Hupka at sasha.hupka@arizonarepublic.com or on Twitter: @SashaHupka.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Phoenix-area casinos: List of COVID-19 safety measures