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More Seminole casinos reopen

Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming and Chairman of Hard Rock International, speaks to the media at the reopening of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood on June 12, 2020. The casino had been closed since March 20 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (Kevin Johnson photo)

HOLLYWOOD – The reopening of Seminole Gaming venues is nearly complete.

Earlier this week, Seminole Casino Brighton welcomed back customers and employees on the Brighton Reservation. Last week, the Seminole Tribe’s three casinos in Broward County reopened. They joined Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, which reopened May 21.

“We’re real excited about being able to generate some business again for the Tribe and Tribal members,” Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming and Chairman of Hard  Rock International, said as he met media members on the casino floor at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood on June 12, a couple hours before the official reopening at 12 p.m. “We’re very proud of the fact that we were able to live up to all of our financial commitments in the three months that we were closed. It really shows the strength of the Tribal Council, our Chairman for having the right reserves in order to navigate through something none of us have ever seen in our lifetime.”

Poker chips are cleaned at a gaming table during the reopening of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood on June 12, 2020. Newly installed Plexiglas dividers separate the dealers from the guests. (Kevin Johnson photo)

Seminole Classic Casino in Hollywood and Seminole Casino Coconut Creek also reopened June 12. The only Seminole Gaming facility that remains closed is Seminole Hotel Casino Immokalee, whose reopening date has not been announced.

Allen said Tampa’s reopening has been successful.

“We’ve had over 200,000 people visit the facility since we’ve been open. Less than 10 cases of people not wanting to wear a mask or concerned about the temperature checks and body imaging, so it’s really going well,” he said.

Allen said about 50% of Tampa’s Hard Rock workforce was brought back when it reopened. He said Hollywood’s reopening numbers were slightly higher on the first day.

“Our goal is to get back to 60 to 70 percent sometime here in the next two or three weeks,” he said.

The reopening of the two casinos in Hollywood and one in Coconut Creek meant the return to work for nearly 4,000 employees.

As a safety precaution in the Covid-19 pandemic, not all slot machines at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood are in operation. The venue reopened June 12, 2020. (Kevin Johnson photo)

All facilities were shuttered March 20 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The casinos have implemented new safety precautions and guidelines – known as the “Safe and Sound” program – including temperature readings that are done by thermal imaging as guests walk through the doors. Any guest or employee with a temperature reading above the CDC guidelines of 100.4 degrees is not allowed entry.

The casinos are operating with a 50% reduced maximum guest capacity.  All customers and employees are required to wear masks.

At the Hard Rock Hollywood’s reopening day, an army of cleaning personnel wore bright yellow long sleeve shirts with “Clean Team” and “Safe and Sound”  on them. The workers sprayed and wiped gaming areas and other touchable surfaces. Poker chips also underwent a cleansing with a spray liquid. Slot machine rows were not available to full occupancy as every other machine was turned off in order to avoid side-by-side seating. Plexiglas dividers separate dealers and guests at table games, poker games and customer service areas. Hard Rock’s electronic display board on State Road 7 in front of the complex alerted those passing by that the casino would reopen at 12 p.m., although a few guests were allowed to enter slightly earlier.

Six hundred of the guest rooms at The Guitar Hotel were made open to bookings. A week later, hotel rooms in the Oasis Tower became available. Some restaurants remained closed on the reopening day, but others – such as The Bol, Cipresso, Council Oak Steak & Seafood, and Hard Rock Cafe – were open. The menu of options grew June 19 as Kuro, Beach Club Bar & Grill and Bae Korean Grill reopened. Events at Hard Rock Live arena have not resumed.  

Outside, the massive light show on the exterior of The Guitar Hotel resumed June 15 with shows at 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.  

The reopening of Seminole casinos comes as hundreds of other casinos throughout the country are returning as well. According to the American Gaming Association, as of June 19, 734 of all casinos in the nation had reopened while 255 remained closed.

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood electronic sign on State Road 7 displays an “open” sign June 12, 2020, for the first time since the venue closed March 20, 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (Kevin Johnson photo)
Plexiglas dividers are now part of the gaming tables at Seminole Gaming casinos, including this one at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek. (Seminole Casino Coconut Creek Facebook photo)
Slot machines are in action as the Seminole Casino Brighton reopened June 16, 2020. (Seminole Casino Brighton Facebook photo)
Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at