Chandler AZ June 24, 2022
A month ago, Robert Washington returned to his job as a security guard at Lone Butte Casino for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Last week, Washington, 68, of Chandler, died in a hospital intensive care unit from complications related to COVID-19, according to his daughter.
Gila River Hotels & Casinos shuttered all three of its casinos for two weeks beginning at 2 a.m. Thursday as it monitors whether the number of COVID-19 cases in Arizona subsides.
Company officials declined The Arizona Republic’s repeated requests to confirm the number of employees who have tested positive for COVID-19, saying that they will not disclose the information to “protect the privacy” of workers.
The Gila River Indian Community operates Lone Butte and Wild Horse Pass casinos near Chandler and Vee Quiva casino near Laveen.
This is the second closure for the casinos. Like other tribal casinos across Arizona, Gila River’s three casinos shut down because of COVID-19 in mid-March. The Gila River casinos initially reopened May 15, the same day Gov. Doug Ducey lifted Arizona’s stay-at-home order.
Casino and tribal leaders had promised to institute new safety measures when they reopened in May, including encouraging patrons to wear masks.
Gila River officials told The Republic that it strengthened its policy last week to mandate all patrons wear masks.