Florida Casino Shutters Operation In Response To Hurricane Ian

Written By Steve Schult on September 28, 2022
Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Hurricane Ian Closure

One of Florida’s largest casinos is closing in response to Hurricane Ian’s landfall in the Sunshine State.

The Seminole Tribe announced Tuesday evening that the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa would close Wednesday morning.

Only registered hotel guests would be allowed on the property after 8 a.m. Most of the property’s operations, including the gaming floor and restaurants, will be closed.

Hard Rock Tampa to stay closed until further notice

According to their announcement, the Seminole Tribe hasn’t given a reopening date. Instead, the casino will open its doors again when the severe weather subsides.

“Our top priority is the safety of our guests and team members,” read the property’s website. “Due to Hurricane Ian, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa will be closed to all non-registered hotel guests starting Wednesday, September 28, at 8 a.m. until conditions allow us to reopen.”

The statement also said that the casino is not a designated storm shelter. As a result, they said they do not have resources to help residents ride out the storm. Walk-in guests will not be accepted.

Other Tampa area attractions close because of Ian

Aside from the Seminole Hard Rock, Busch Gardens and ZooTampa were shuttered because of the storm.

Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida Wednesday evening near Fort Myers and Cape Coral. When the eye of the storm reached the coastline, there were winds of about 150 mph, and it was classified as a powerful Category 4 storm, according to NBC News.

The storm is expected to move up the west coast of Florida and through the Tampa and St. Petersburg area. Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an evacuation order for residents in many gulf coast communities. The order encompasses about 2.5 million Florida residents.

For those that couldn’t make it out of the state, there are 176 shelters open throughout the state. At the time of publication, there are 1.6 million Floridians without power.

Even if Ian’s path changes and the eye of the storm misses Tampa, the severe weather could cause plenty of damage.

Flooding will be the city’s main concern. Currently, the hurricane is pulling water out of Tampa Bay and further into the Gulf of Mexico in what is referred as a “reverse storm surge.”

It left the Bay with very low water levels near the shores. But experts warn that the water will eventually come back. When it comes back, it will come back with speed and be a major threat of heavy flooding.

When will Hard Rock reopen?

At this point, that’s anyone’s guess.

Heavy rain and wind are expected to last through Thursday night. Therefore, the absolute earliest it will accept wagers again would be Friday.

However, the assumed damage will probably keep the property closed until Saturday. Maybe longer if there are mass power outages.

When the storm hit Cuba as a Category 3 storm on Tuesday, it knocked power out on the entire island. But Cuban officials were able to restore some of the grid by Wednesday.

Photo by Shutterstock / Daniel Wright98
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Steve Schult

As Managing Editor of PlayFL, Steve will stay on top of all things related to the Florida gaming industry. He is also a veteran of the gambling world. The native New Yorker started covering high-stakes tournaments in 2009 for some of poker's most prominent media outlets before adding the broader U.S. gaming market to his beat in 2018.

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