WinStar World Casino has impact on Cooke County economy

WinStar Casino is a beacon of economic light for Oklahoma residents as well as residents in Gainesville and Cooke County. Increased commerce has made the region more prosperous.

UPDATE 3:36 p.m.:

A statement posted to WinStar's website indicates the casino, retail stores and casino restaurants are closing "in accordance with health official directives discouraging mass gatherings of 50 people or more to slow the transmission of this virus."

The WinStar World Casino Hotel will remain open, according to the statement. The Terrace View Café inside the WinStar World Casino Hotel and The Spa at WinStar will also remain open, but with service limited to no more than 50 people at a time.

Fun Town RV Park at WinStar, WinStar Golf Club, WinStar Golf Academy will remain open, as well. Legends Bar and Grill will remain open but also will limit service to no more than 50 people at a time.

FULL REPORT 3:33 p.m.:

WinStar World Casino and Resort just north of Gainesville is closing for more than two weeks as a precautionary measure to help limit the spread of the new coronavirus, Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby announced Monday, March 16, in a press release.

 “We are closing all casinos operated by the Chickasaw Nation as a way to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” the disease caused by the new coronavirus, Anoatubby said, “and protect the health and well-being of our citizens. Casinos will close at midnight tonight and remain closed through March 31.”

The closure of WinStar and all other Chickasaw-owned casinos follows guidance issued Sunday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying organizers should cancel or postpone in-person events of 50 or more people taking place over the next eight weeks. CDC guidance indicates its recommendation doesn’t apply to the day-to-day operations of educational institutions or businesses.

More than 3,700 people are employed at the casino and in its hospitality and restaurant arms, according to a 2018 fact sheet posted on the casino’s website. More than 2,300 of those employees hail from Texas. Employees will still be paid while the casino is closed, according to the press release.

The casino’s impact on Gainesville is also felt in boosts to local restaurant dining and hotel bookings, the Register has reported previously.

Chickasaw leaders are communicating with Oklahoma state and federal officials to coordinate mitigation efforts for both the virus and its economic and social impacts, Anoatubby continued.

“We will continue to compensate employees during this temporary disruption to our business operations,” he said in the release. “It is encouraging that businesses, organizations and governments across the United States are taking a proactive approach to help stem the spread of COVID-19. It is imperative we continue working together to meet the challenges this outbreak presents to the health and well-being of people across the world.

“We encourage everyone around the state and across the U.S. to make informed, conscious decisions regarding their own health and safety, and consider those people around them.”

The Chickasaw Nation operates WinStar World Casino and Resort near Thackerville, Oklahoma, just north of Gainesville. With about 600,000 square feet of gaming area, WinStar ranks among the largest casinos in the world, according to several roundups listing large casinos by square footage. It seats 3,500 in its Global Event Center.

ORIGINAL 2:49 p.m.:

All casinos operated by the Chickasaw Nation, including WinStar World Casino and Resort, will be closing at midnight tonight, Monday, March 16, as a precautionary measure to limit the spread of the new coronavirus, Chickasaw Gov. Bill Anoatubby announced in a press release issued Monday afternoon.

“We are closing all casinos operated by the Chickasaw Nation as a way to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and well-being of our citizens. Casinos will close at midnight tonight and remain closed through March 31, 2020,” Anoatubby said in the release.

“We are continuing to engage with federal and state officials to develop a coordinated plan to mitigate the health impacts, as well as the economic and social impacts, caused by the spread of this disease.

“We will continue to compensate employees during this temporary disruption to our business operations.

“It is encouraging that businesses, organizations and governments across the United States are taking a proactive approach to help stem the spread of COVID-19. It is imperative we continue working together to meet the challenges this outbreak presents to the health and well-being of people across the world.

“We encourage everyone around the state and across the U.S. to make informed, conscious decisions regarding their own health and safety, and consider those people around them.”

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