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Navajo Leaders Approve $25 Million In COVID-19 Relief For Casino Employees

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Navajo Nation leaders have approved nearly $25 million in federal coronavirus funding to pay the tribe’s 1,100 gaming employees.

The tribe closed its four casinos located in Arizona and New Mexico in March during the worsening pandemic, but continued to pay employees until late July when Navajo Gaming’s financial resources began to dry up. Officials say, the $475 million spending package approved by the Navajo Council and President Jonathan Nez last week will avoid layoffs and loss of worker healthcare.

“We are grateful for the support of the Navajo Nation leadership during these challenging times," said Navajo Gaming Board of Directors Chairman Quincy Natay in a press release. "As a tribally-owned enterprise whose mission is to enhance the quality of life of the Navajo people through a successful gaming economy, we are focused on restoring salary and benefits to over 1,100 team members.”

Gaming officials say they hope to soon bring back team members, but the casinos will remain closed August. The Navajo Nation working on a plan to gradually reopen the reservation as cases of coronavirus continue to flatten.

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