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Gila River Casinos shut down again amid coronavirus safety concerns

Posted at 5:35 AM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-18 09:15:55-04

PHOENIX — Gila River Casinos has shut down again amid concerns from employees during the coronavirus pandemic.

ABC15 crews went to Lone Butte casino early Thursday morning where the sign was lit up with a message saying, "This location is currently closed. See you soon." No other messages or notifications about the closure were immediately put online.

Gila River Casinos, which also owns Vee Quiva and Wild Horse Pass casinos, released a statement around 6 a.m. Thursday saying, "The closure will be effective for all three properties beginning at 2 a.m. on June 18, and it will be in effect for two weeks."

They will reportedly re-examine all of their safety precautions during the two-week closure. Gila River Casinos says all team members will continue to be paid and receive health benefits during the closure.

“Nothing is more important to our Community than the well-being of our team members and guests, children, elders and families,” said Gila River Indian Community Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis in a statement. “Like our sister tribes and businesses all over Arizona, we have tried to do what is best for all, while processing new information and new guidelines about the pandemic with little in the way of definitive guidance.”

Several employees recently expressed concern over safety and health measures at Gila River Casinos.

Many tell ABC15 that management refuses to reveal how many employees have tested positive for the coronavirus since opening. Some even say they were forced to return to work despite fear for their health, or quit.

This comes after the family of a security guard at the Lone Butte location said he died from the virus after being called back to work last month.

Gila River Casinos closed in March, " do our part to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19),” Kenneth Manuel, CEO of Gila River Hotels & Casinos, said in a statement at the time. They reopened in mid-May when Governor Doug Ducey's stay-at-home order expired.