Nevada Casinos Planning to Reopen Next Thursday Have a Week to Implement Revised Health Guidelines

Posted on: May 28, 2020, 10:06h. 

Last updated on: May 28, 2020, 11:02h.

Nevada gaming properties now have updated health and safety guidance from the state’s Gaming Control Board as they prepare for planned reopenings starting next Thursday.

Nevada Casinos Health Regulations
Bill Hornbuckle, acting CEO and president of MGM Resorts International, stands behind an acrylic barrier at a gaming table in the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas. The gaming property is among those scheduled to reopen next Thursday, per recent guidelines from the Nevada Gaming Control Board. (Image: Associated Press)

This week’s recommendations and requirements add to an earlier board policy on health. That required gaming properties with instructions to follow when writing up a formal reopening plan detailing the precautions they will take to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission.

Individual plans need to be submitted to the gaming board for review before casinos can resume operations and let guests and players inside. The earliest casinos can reopen is June 4. Many Las Vegas venues plan to resume limited operations on that date.

Casino Guests Encouraged to Wear Face Masks

Found among the latest guidance is that the gaming board requires properties to have face masks available for visitors. Also, those venues which are defined as “resort hotels” need to either provide temperature checks for entering guests, or to have onsite medical professionals available at all hours and to collect self-assessment symptom forms filled in by visitors.

When it comes to face masks or some other Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-recommended cloth face coverings, guests will not be forced to wear them. But the casinos must make them available upon request.

Specifically, casino staff “should encourage” players and guests to wear the masks or coverings “while in public places on the licensee’s property.”

During an initial heath screening, if it is determined that a guest needs a COVID-19 test, resort hotels must provide a “designated area” where visitors can get the test and can await results.

The latest guidance reflects recommendations made by local and state health officials during a gaming board workshop on Tuesday. Among those taking part were hospital and public health leaders.

One other piece of new guidance says gaming properties can submit alternative safety measures for table games. The board does not specify what alternatives may be acceptable.

“Plans must limit the number of patrons based on [the] type of game to ensure proper distance between players by limiting the number of seats or betting positions per table, or licensees may submit alternative plans for approval by the Board,” the gaming board now says in its policy.

“For example, player limit per table should be limited to: three players per blackjack table, six players per craps table, four players per roulette table, and four players per poker table,” the plan adds.

Gaming Board Wants Responsible Gaming

The board is also telling casinos their reopening plans must include “responsible gaming” measures that address problem gaming topics.

Plans must include the … [casino’s] commitment to and implementation of responsible gaming measures. Licensees are encouraged to enhance their responsible gaming measures, [by, for example,] … providing enhanced training to employees and creating specialized messaging for patrons.”

In recent weeks, multiple representatives from Nevada’s responsible gaming organizations recommended to state officials that such information be included in casino reopening plans. There is concern among problem gambling organizations that those who have a history of gambling addiction may find now a trying time following a period of isolation, illness, grief, unemployment, and other conditions that can lead to resumed problematic behaviors.

Overall, the board health and safety plan deals with a range of topics, such as cleaning, disinfection, social distancing, employee training, and particularly, occupancy restrictions. “Plans must limit a property’s occupancy to no more than fifty percent … of the occupancy limit assigned to each gaming area of the property by local building and fire codes,” the board policy said.

Gaming board members have stressed that requirements or suggestions included in the state policy, can be added to by individual casinos to make the precautions stronger. The policy attempted to be “universal” for a range of different size gaming properties, gaming board Chairwoman Sandra Douglass Morgan has said during public meetings.

The board’s new policy also can be revised in the future based on any new COVID-19 recommendations from federal, state, and local health officials. The board will alert casinos to any updated requirements.