TULSA, Oklahoma – Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief David Hill and River Spirit Casino Resort Chief Executive Officer Pat Crofts announced the extended temporary closure of all 11 Muscogee (Creek) Nation Casinos, including River Spirit Casino Resort, through May 31.
A press release was issued updating the status of the tribes gaming operations and stated that gaming employees would be able to continue receiving pay and benefits throughout the month of May.
The Gaming Operations Authority Board (GOAB), Tribal and Gaming officials have been monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to focus on public health. Oklahoma State Department of Health has reported 129 new cases of the virus, and seven COVID-19 related deaths in the last 24-hours.
‘Our first priority is, and will remain, the health and well-being of 2,200 employees and the thousands of guests that visit our properties,’ Principal Chief Hill said in the release. ‘Ultimately, the local health benchmarks do not suggest that now is the time to reopen River Spirit Casino Resort or the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Casinos.’
Officials suspended operations on Monday, March 16 as a precaution to guidelines issued by the National Center for Disease Control. Chief Hill confirmed Muscogee (Creek) Nation Casinos and River Spirit Casino Resort will maintain payroll and benefits for its 2,200 employees through May 31.
‘We continue to make the important decision to invest in our employees by extending their pay and benefits through the end of the month while we work through the phases to welcome back our guests,’ Chief Hill said. ‘We have a responsibility as a leader and a primary employer to make decisions that reflect our commitment to safety for our communities and for our teams.’
The temporary closure includes casinos in Beggs, Holdenville, Eufaula, Bristow, Checotah, Okemah, Okmulgee, Muskogee and River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa. The closure includes the travel plaza casinos in Muskogee and Okmulgee, but the Okmulgee convenience store remains open to serve the public in need of essentials.
Officials like River Spirit Casino Resort CEO Pat Croft have reported that preparations and planning are taking place for the day when the facilities will be opened for the public to enjoy but that they are keeping public health as the top priority in planning.
‘We have been working closely with our gaming board, our tribal gaming regulatory agency and the Nation’s health department to determine how to safely reopen,’ Crofts said. ‘We are developing a comprehensive, phased plan that prioritizes safety, but can also deliver the top-tier entertainment and hospitality experience for which River Spirit and our casinos are known.’
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation flagship resort has an award winning presence in Oklahoma.
A date for a phase one reopening is not yet determined, but Muscogee (Creek) Nation officials are committed to following federal health guidelines and industry best practices as they consider a future date.