A prominent Florida gaming establishment has recently reopened, handing a significant boost to the local economy.
The Seminole Casino Hotel closed in March as a reaction to the situation developing around the world, registering a blow to the local economy. The 24/7 venue is usually a hive of activity, generating revenue for the state of Florida, but it closed its doors, shuttered its windows and stopped people entering.
The hotel and casino account for some 900 jobs in peak season and is vital to the area, so news of it reopening at the start of September was warmly received. New measures are in place to ensure guests and visitors remain safely distanced, but the roulette wheels and slot machines are spinning once again.
Danny Gonzalez, president of the Immokalee Chamber of Commerce, was delighted to see it throwing open the doors as we enter fall. “They do a lot for the community and it is a blessing they are going to be reopening. I’m a big supporter,” he is reported as saying by Naples Daily News. “When the casino closed, it just changed everything in Immokalee. The town was not the same. There wasn’t any traffic on Main Street, with people not coming into the casino.”
Gaming legislation across the United States is changing, with the benefits to local economies being numerous. Not only does such a venue attract visitors from miles away, meaning more money flowing into town, but the revenue generated by such establishments can help other positive causes around the location.
The Sun Sentinel reports that the gaming industry is thought to be worth around $569m to Florida, with money flowing both into and out of casinos. Plenty of big prizes are on offer to eager players, with Action News Jax claiming that one Florida woman recently won a $3.8m jackpot at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood, known as The Guitar Hotel, one of the six Seminole locations across the state. Whilst it seems like a huge prize, it is dwarfed by some of the sums on offer. A feature on the biggest ever slot prizes by Gala Spins reveals that the biggest single win on a slot machine was $39.7m, secured at the Excalibur Hotel and Casino. The same network also awarded other record-breaking amounts, $27.5m in 1998 and $21m in 1999. In total, the Guitar Hotel claims to have paid out over $74m in prizes since reopening.
Whilst prizes to patrons make the headlines, some of the touches made by the Seminole Casino Hotel in Immokalee have gone unnoticed. Many of their 500 permanent employees live and work in the town and during the closure they have been supported with $100 gift cards by their employer. They were also given two week’s paychecks after the resort closed, and have been able to tap into future paid time off to extend their pay. They have also continued to receive their healthcare benefits too, giving them some peace of mind.
The Immokalee venue is the last of the Seminole chain to open, with updated safety protocols in place following lessons learned as the other five started business once again. The capacity will be down by 50% and three of the restaurants in the building will not be opened at the moment. Despite that, the efforts of the group are ‘industry-leading’, according to Gary Bitner, a spokesman for the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
“This is an industry-leading effort,” he said. “There is no question that what the Seminoles are doing is leading the industry. In fact, frankly, leading multiple industries because it sets up such a comprehensive program to help keep people healthy and safe.”
Photo Credit: Declan M Martin