Seminole Hard Rock Casino Tampa Shutters as Hurricane Ian Nears Landfall

Posted on: September 28, 2022, 11:47h. 

Last updated on: September 30, 2022, 04:24h.

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa has closed to all non-registered hotel guests, as Hurricane Ian nears landfall in Florida.

Hard Rock Tampa casino Seminole Hurricane Ian
Hurricane Ian inches closer to Florida on Sept. 28, 2022. The powerful hurricane resulted in Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa temporarily closing to non-hotel guests. (Image: FOX 5 Atlanta)

Hurricane Ian gained strength overnight, forming a new eye and growing stronger and larger. The National Hurricane Center says the violent storm is now a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 120 mph to 155 mph.

Typically one of the last businesses to close in the event of a hurricane, Seminole Hard Rock Tampa made the decision to shutter its operations apart from its hotel. The casino, owned and operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, is about seven miles inland from Tampa Bay.

Our top priority is the safety of our guests and team members,” the Tampa casino said in a notice. “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 am until conditions allow us to reopen.”

The casino advised that it’s not a designated storm shelter and doesn’t have the resources to take in evacuees. Therefore, the casino isn’t accepting walk-in hotel guests. The casino encouraged evacuees to seek shelter at an approved hurricane shelter.

Southwest Florida on High Alert

Eight Florida airports are closed as the hurricane nears landfall. Storm experts are expecting Ian to make landfall somewhere between Naples and Tampa. Airports in St. Petersburg, Immokalee, Marco Island, Melbourne, Orlando, Sarasota-Bradenton, Clearwater, and Tampa are all closed.

As Hurricane Ian moves across the state, with more than 155 mph winds, this is as strong as a large tornado,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) warned today. “Expect strong winds, heavy rains, and flooding.”

The governor says 176 shelters are open, including 50 specially designed to assist those with special needs. Shelters can be found by clicking here.

The Seminoles maintain a monopoly on Las Vegas-style casino gambling in the Sunshine State. Along with Hard Rock Tampa, the tribe owns and operates Seminole Casino Immokalee on the Gulf of Mexico side of the state.

Since Seminole Immokalee is almost 30 miles inland from the Gulf, the casino is remaining open.

Evacuation Orders

DeSantis says Ian is going to deliver a “nasty two days,” with potentially catastrophic storm surges, and therefore, he has ordered more than 2.5 million people to evacuate to safer ground.

The governor issued evacuation orders for residents in coastal communities, as well as those living in mobile homes and low-lying areas. The order applies to a dozen counties: Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Putnam, and Sarasota.

Officials in Tampa are warning residents that Ian’s slight turn south doesn’t mean the city is out of the woods.

“Please be aware that we are not out of danger yet. Flooding is still going to occur,” said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor in a Twitter message.