Florida Casino Serves As Refuge For Hurricane Ian Evacuees

Written By Steve Schult on October 4, 2022
Florida Casino Hurricane Relief

A Florida casino temporarily became a shelter for Florida residents displaced in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

Last weekend, the Miccosukee Casino & Resort allowed those affected by the storm to take shelter at the casino. There are more than 250 rooms at the property’s hotel. But many chose to camp in RVs and mobile homes in the casino parking lot.

The property is one of seven Florida casinos. The facility is about 35 miles west of downtown Miami on the edge of the Everglades.

A tribal nation runs every casino in the Sunshine State. However, this is the only one owned and operated by an entity other than the Seminole Tribe. Instead, the Miccosukee Tribe, the other federally recognized tribe in Florida, runs this casino.

The Miccosukee Casino is a Class II gaming facility with slot machines and electronic bingo. It also has amenities like a salon and spa, but it does not offer house-backed card games like blackjack. The Seminole Tribe was given exclusivity over those types of games in the last Florida gaming compact.

Property lifts age restriction to accommodate families

Under normal conditions, the tribe bans anyone under 18 from entering. But they lifted those restrictions so that families would be allowed to walk freely throughout the property.

“Given the extreme impact of Hurricane Ian on the state of Florida and our surrounding counties, Miccosukee Casino & Resort is extending welcome to guests of all ages to our resort and facility until further notice,” the tribe said in a statement.

According to a USA Today report, the policy change helped at least one family find relief. One family from Sanibel Island brought their two daughters to stay at the casino until they could return home.

Hurricane Ian decimated Southwest Florida

The category 4 hurricane made landfall last week near Fort Myers in the southwest area of the state. With torrential downpours and winds nearing 150 mph, Hurricane Ian did incredible damage to homes and left many in the region without power.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there are still more than 391,000 residents without power.

The was no major damage to the state’s east coast. As a result, the Miami-area casino could open its doors to those on the other side of the Everglades.

Seminole Hard Rock Tampa reopens

Originally, meteorologists forecasted the storm to move up the Florida Gulf Coast and hammer the Tampa area. The last time the city encountered a direct hit from a hurricane was more than a century ago.

In response, the Seminole Tribe temporarily closed its Tampa property. Luckily, the storm changed course and Tampa avoided a direct hit.

The Seminole Hard Rock Casino Tampa closed its doors Wednesday, Sept. 28 at 8 a.m. But the venue reopened the following day.

Photo by Gerald Herbert / AP
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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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