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Tribes Running Oklahoma's Four Largest Gaming Operations Shut Down Casinos, Hotels

River Spirit

Oklahoma’s four largest tribes have suspended their hotel and casino operations.

The Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Muscogee (Creek) nations shut down their flagship resorts and dozens of other casinos at 11:59 p.m. Monday because of concerns about COVID-19.

Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said gaming and entertainment is the largest part of Cherokee Nation’s business portfolio, but he’s confident they can weather a closure of even a few months.

"Now, we’re taking it in phases. So, this first phase is through the end of March. We’ll take a look and see what’s in the best interest of our citizens in terms of whether we reopen or we remain in suspension mode," Hoskin said.

"But the Cherokee Nation will come out of this stronger than ever. We just need everyone in the country, everyone in the United States, really everyone around the world, to do these sorts of things. And I think if we do that, we’ll get a handle on this virus and we’ll have it eradicated eventually," Hoskin said.

Hoskin said hotel and casino employees will be paid during the closures.

Tribes operating travel plazas said the casinos at them will close, but the convenience stores and gas stations will remain open.

The Chickasaw and Muscogee (Creek) nations could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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