Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio will close until the end of the month starting Tuesday while both Agua Caliente casinos in Rancho Mirage and Indio will remain open for gaming and dining, signaling a mixed response by Coachella Valley tribal officials in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Cabazon Band of Mission Indians announced Monday it would be shuttering its Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, becoming the second local tribe to close its casino doors in response to COVID-19, which has killed two people in Riverside County as of Monday afternoon.
All full- and part-time employees will be paid during the temporary closure, tribal officials said.
“Given the concern about the spread of coronavirus, we believe this is the appropriate decision for our valued guests and the employees who serve them,” tribal Chairman Doug Welmas said.
“The (tribal) council greatly appreciates their hard work and has taken measures to ensure that they are compensated during this time. We will continue to reassess the situation as new information becomes available, and proceed with unity, leadership and generosity.”
All March and April concert dates were previously rescheduled. Chaka Khan, who was set to perform on March 27, is now scheduled to perform July 4, and Daryl Hall and John Oates, who were scheduled for Saturday, will now play on Oct. 17.
Later in the afternoon, the largest federally recognized tribe in the Coachella Valley signaled it would be following a different approach. The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians announced late Monday both its Coachella Valley casino locations will remain open for gaming, but concerts would be postponed.
The Sunshine Spa at the Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa in Rancho Mirage will also close, along with the buffet and all shows. The buffet at the Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs will also shut down, and all shows postponed. Restaurants will also remain open.
“The decision to remain open or closed altogether is a difficult one. As one of the largest employers in the Coachella Valley, our employees depend on us to provide for their families, especially during this difficult time,” Chairman Jeff L. Grubbe said.
“The tribe is currently developing workplace policies to address individual team member needs based on their obligations to their families.”
The tribe announced that instead of closing, it would be implementing an aggressive cleanliness regime effective immediately, which includes deploying additional hand sanitizer stations and new “clean carts” aimed at sanitizing gaming machines on a regular basis.
Every other seat at gaming tables and in restaurants will also be removed.
The Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians was the first Coachella Valley tribe to announce whether it would be putting the brakes on its area gaming operations. Tribal officials said Sunday it would be closing its Augustine Casino in Coachella until further notice.
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