When Nevada casinos reopen
The Nevada Gaming Commission will consider the state Gaming Control Board’s new health and safety policy statements detailing instructions for the reopening of Nevada casinos with guidelines that include social distancing requirements.
The guidelines, posted on the control board’s website, include a seven-page document for nonrestricted licensees and a four-page notice for restricted licencees — those with 15 or fewer slot machines generally held by convenience stores, supermarkets, bars and restaurants.
Both directives require licensees to provide a detailed reopening plan at least seven days before their planned opening. Neither requires customers or employees to wear masks, but some companies are expected to enact such policies individually.
Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered all casinos closed March 17 in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. That order has been extended to an undetermined opening date based on the state reaching benchmarks that include continued declines in new cases and hospitalizations and improved levels of expanded testing and contact tracing. Gov. Sisolak has been resolute in trying to protect the health of Nevadans and visitors to the state, but he is under enormous political pressure to speed up the reopening before it is safe to do so.
Some Strip resorts still hope to open by Memorial Day, with some suggesting they may remain closed until at least sometime in June or even beyond.
Among the requirements of casino companies that are listed in the new documents:
- Properties must limit occupancy to no more than 50 percent of the limit assigned to each gaming area of the property by local building and fire codes. Properties can use head counts by security personnel, existing surveillance systems and slot machine accounting systems to estimate occupancy numbers.
- Plans must include how hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes would be available to all casino employees as well as for patron use.
- Plans must ensure that the floor plan for slot machines creates proper social distancing between patrons. The guideline suggests that chairs and stools in front of every other gaming machine be removed so that patrons do not sit next to each other, or licensees could propose other measures to ensure proper distance between players. Employees will be assigned to focus on ensuring guests don’t congregate in groups, which may be difficult to accomplish.
- Social distancing will be required in all table games. Limits will include three players per blackjack table -- which will be welcomed by most card counters and other types of advantage players -- six players per craps table, four players per roulette table and four players per poker table. Some poker players welcome four-hand poker. Casino supervisors and managers must ensure that patrons do not congregate in groups around gaming tables.
- Plans will require regular cleaning and disinfection of table games, rails, chairs, dice, card shoes, shufflers, roulette wheels, pai gow tiles, pit podiums, blackjack discard holders and tip boxes when a new player or employee comes in contact with any of those items. Plans also will address how licensees will disinfect cards and chips. Cards will likely be changed far more often than in the past. Chips, which normally are never washed, are an open question at this time.
- Plans must ensure that patrons do not congregate in groups and practice social distancing in race and sportsbooks, keno lounges, bingo halls and any other gaming areas. Plans also must include how those areas will be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis.
- Nightclubs and “dayclubs” within a licensee’s property will remain closed indefinitely.s.
- Social distancing requirements will be in place at any meeting and convention space. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines prohibiting gatherings of 250 people or more will be enforced until further notice. Food service for meetings and conventions will be served by personnel and managed under government requirements.
Similar requirements also are in place for the smaller restricted licensees, including the 50 percent occupancy rules and social distancing at bartop slot machines. The board suggested covering a machine’s bill and ticket validator so that customers do not use that machine.
Skilled patrons look forward to new opportunities that may inadvertently be created by new procedures and distracted or poor supervision.
"Gaming Control Board details casino requirements for reopening", Richard N. Velotta, lvrj.com, May 4, 2020.