Gamblers are back at Hard Rock and other South Florida casinos

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Shuffle up and deal. Gamblers were lined up and ready to play as a number of casinos in South Florida reopened Friday, including the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood.

Also opening: Hialeah Park, The Big Easy in Hallandale Beach, Magic City Casino, The Casino at Dania Beach, and the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek and Seminole Classic Casino in Hollywood.

Players walking through the doors are noticing some big changes. First off, anyone entering Hard Rock will have to pass through thermal imaging cameras that detect a potential fever.

One of the things you’ll notice if you sit down at one of the tables is a new barrier of plexiglass providing a divide between players and the dealer.

“Actually I like it that you get your own individualized area or space,” Joe Imperatori said while sitting at one of the card tables.

Thousands of alternating slot machines are also turned off to make sure people are able to social distance. Everyone inside the casino will be required to wear a mask and no surprise there is hand sanitizer available nearly everywhere you look.

Also, Guitar Hotel has utilized staff to form what they’re calling a clean team to constantly focus on disinfecting surfaces particularly in high-touch and high traffic areas.

In all, around 3,200 employees are back at work at the Seminole properties because of the reopening. Hard Rock International’s chairman Jim Allen says they essentially had to create an entire new manual on protocols to keep everyone safe.

“This is not about money,” Allen said. “You know, this is about the safety of our tribal members, our employees and our guests. Obviously this has been a tremendous financial impact being closed for three months. ... But it’s about slowly going back in and making sure we take the steps to enjoy.”

South Florida’s casinos have been closed since mid-March because of the coronavirus outbreak, though the Miccosukee Resort reopened last month. The Hard Rock’s casino in Tampa opened May 21.

“It’s been so long. We’re so anxious to get back,” said Daniel Adkins, president of gaming at The Big Easy Casino in Hallandale Beach.

Guests were lined up outside that casino before it reopened at 10 a.m. Friday with many of the same safety measures as the Hard Rock.

“The facilities are ready,” Adkins said. “The employees are ready and happy to be back to work.”

On Thursday, Hialeah Park gave Local 10 News a tour of how they plan to keep guests safe from the potential spread of COVID-19.

Hialeah Park showed Local 10 the many ways that they'll protect guests from the spread of coronavirus when they reopen Friday.

The No. 1 thing casino players should remember whether they want to play the tables or slot machine is that you must make sure you wear a mask.

About the Authors:

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.

Saira Anwer joined the Local 10 News team in July 2018. Saira is two-time Emmy-nominated reporter and comes to South Florida from Madison, Wisconsin, where she was working as a reporter and anchor.