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Hard Rock hotels, casinos closing in Tampa and statewide

The shutdown comes at 6 p.m. Friday to protect the “health and safety of guests" as the coronavirus spreads.

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TAMPA — Citing the “health and safety of guests" as the coronavirus spreads, the Seminole Tribe of Florida will temporarily close its six Florida casinos by 6 p.m. today.

That includes the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.

“This decision was not taken lightly as Seminole Gaming employs nearly 14,000 Seminole Gaming team members in the state,” the tribe said in a statement released on their website. “The goal has been to protect their livelihood without jeopardizing public safety. We have now reached a point where we do not feel comfortable taking that risk."

Employees will be paid for the next to weeks on this basis:

• Full-time employees will be paid their full wage for the next two weeks.

• Full-time tipped employees will be paid $12 an hour on a full-time basis for two weeks.

• Seminole Hard Rock will research recent earnings for part-time employees and pay them a comparable wage for the next two weeks.

“Hotel guests will be contacted directly to accommodate their current bookings and needs, wherever possible,” the tribe said in its announcement.

On Tuesday, the Seminole Tribe closed its poker room, turned off many slot machines to add distance between gamblers and limited the number of players at table games. The Seminole Hard Rock Tampa property gets from 10,000 to 20,000 patrons daily, depending on the day of the week, and is popular with retirees.

Related: Seminole Hard Rock Tampa sees thousands of patrons a day. Will coronavirus change that?

The Tampa casino and hotel have a staff of 4,800 and generate $1 billion a year in revenue, making it the flagship of the tribe’s casino business and the most profitable casino in North America, according to Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International and president of Seminole Gaming..

State Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, who held a press conference this week urging the Seminole Hard Rock Casino to fully close its doors, applauded the decision.

“The health and well-being of our community is of the utmost importance as we battle this pandemic and operating the casino presents a health risk to workers, patrons, and our community at-large," Toledo said in a statement.

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