Gaming Employees Increasingly Stricken with Coronavirus, New Safeguards Discussed in Negotiations

Posted on: March 16, 2020, 12:18h. 

Last updated on: March 16, 2020, 01:06h.

Las Vegas-based Culinary Workers Union Local 226 has started the process of negotiating with the region’s properties on the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, and management has suggested some new protections, according to news reports. Casino workers nationwide are continuing to test positive for the potentially fatal illness.

Geoconda Arguello-Kline, secretary-treasurer of the Culinary Union, which is in the process of negotiating with casinos in Las Vegas over coronavirus risk. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Union leadership is monitoring as the virus is getting more severe in southern Nevada. Today, the Southern Nevada Health District announced Clark County had its first death from coronavirus.

It is a 65-year-old man with preexisting health conditions. The total number of cases of the illness in the region reached 35 as of Monday.

The Culinary Union is in the process of negotiating the effects of the coronavirus with Las Vegas casino resorts,” the union said in a recent statement quoted by KLAS TV. “There are new proposals on the table regarding additional protections for workers in response to the on-going coronavirus pandemic.”

“The coronavirus is here in Nevada and in the next few months, we will be tested on our resolve and unity,” a prior union statement adds.

Two major gaming operators, Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts International, both decided this weekend to close their Las Vegas properties. They will be shuttered for at least two weeks. Some other venues remain open.

Elsewhere, a Caesars Southern Indiana Casino worker tested positive for COVID-19. Officials did not give details on the condition of the Caesars’ employee. The casino released a brief statement to WAVE TV, which said how casino management is “working closely with the health department to address this matter.”

Caesars Workers May Need to Self-Quarantine

The Caesars casino closed at 6 a.m. today. “We will continue to do our part by following our hygiene and cleaning protocols to help keep our Team Members and guests healthy and safe,” Caesars said.

We are in the process of tracing the individual’s movements and already began notifying those who are determined to have had sufficient contact with this person to require self-quarantine,” the Caesars’ statement adds.

Earlier, all state-licensed casinos and racetracks in Indiana were ordered closed for at least 14 days by the Gaming and Horse Racing commissions.

Casino and racetrack employees nationally have contracted coronavirus in recent weeks. Notably, “several” MGM Resorts International workers tested positive for COVID-19, the company said. One worked at the Luxor Hotel & Casino.

Recently, MGM-owned Yonkers Raceway in New York was shuttered after a man who had an office in the paddock building died after contracting coronavirus. He was a long-time trainer at the raceway.

Other cases of the virus among workers include California’s Commerce Casino, Wildhorse Resort and Casino in Oregon, and the Hakkasan Group in Las Vegas. The Hakkasan employee worked at Wet Republic day club at the MGM Grand.

Guests at gaming properties are also testing positive for the virus. A woman who was a guest at The Mirage to attend a convention in Las Vegas tested positive for COVID-19. It also was reported by the Boston Globe that Utah Jazz basketball star Donovan Mitchell went to the Encore Boston Harbor on March 5. He played in the high limit area of the gaming floor for about an hour, then subsequently tested positive for coronavirus.

Tougher Casino Floor Standards

Casinos in Nevada that remain open are not just disinfecting. Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Sunday there can be no more than three players at table games. Slots must be cleaned and sanitized at least every every two hours, the Las Vegas Review-Journal said.