Nevada Casinos Wait For Updated COVID Regulations From Gaming Control Board

Posted on: April 21, 2021, 12:45h. 

Last updated on: April 21, 2021, 02:07h.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) has yet to release new details on gaming floor capacity and other COVID-19-related restrictions for the period starting next month. A tentative deadline is set for May 1.

As of May 1, many state businesses will be under county oversight
Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman J. Brin Gibson shown here. The board has yet to release new COVID guidelines for casinos. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

As of now, the NGCB continues to maintain control over the state’s gaming properties, according to a plan announced on April 13 by Gov. Steve Sisolak (D)

The board is currently working on its mitigation plan and will release that information in the coming days,” said Michael Lawton, NGCB senior analyst, to Casino.org on Tuesday.

So far, what is known is that the NGCB oversight is basically limited to gaming floors and some other areas of casinos.

Hotels located at gaming properties never were under the NGCB’s purview. Restaurants located in gaming complexes will fall under local county regulation as of May 1.

Earlier this month, the NGCB recommended linking casino requests for increased gaming floor capacity to the number of vaccinations received by casino workers.

Last year, casinos were shuttered for several months by Sisolak. Then, they gradually reopened and were incrementally allowed to increase their capacity with health restrictions in place.

Now, statewide capacity is basically at 50 percent. Sisolak’s goal is to have all of Nevada basically at 100 percent capacity by June 1.

Clark County: Non-Casino May Occupancy at 80 Percent

But under the state plan, individual counties can adjust occupancy levels for their own region before June starting next month. For instance, on Tuesday, Clark County officials recommended increasing occupancy limits at many non-casino businesses to 80 percent by May 1.

Clark County includes the Las Vegas Strip and downtown Las Vegas. Many casinos are located in the county.

County officials want to decrease social distancing requirements from six to three feet as of May 1. Currently, the state requires six feet of social distancing. But as of May, county governments basically will set social distancing requirements.

Beyond that, the Clark County plan would eliminate all capacity restrictions and social distancing at an unspecified date. The key to that is when 60 percent of 1.8 million eligible county residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Approximately 44 percent of the eligible population, which totals about 815,000, has gotten at least one vaccine shot, the Review-Journal said.

In addition, Clark County wants to increase the number of diners allowed at a restaurant table from six to 12. Adult entertainment properties would also reopen under the county plan.

Nightclubs and day clubs would be allowed to reopen in Clark County. But dance floors would be closed until 60 percent in the community of the region have received COVID shots, the Review-Journal said.

Facemasks remain a requirement statewide.

The Clark County proposal still needs to be approved by state officials before it is implemented.

Don’t Reopen Too Quickly

But there are some concerns over the Clark County plan. For instance, Stephen Miller, director of UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research, warned it could be moving too quickly.

“The plan to move Clark County to permit up to 80-percent capacity and to move the social distancing requirement from six to three feet on May 1 may prove politically popular and may accelerate the Southern Nevada economic recovery in the short run,” Miller told Casino.org.

This change in public health practice, however, increases the risk of a resurgence of the virus and of aborting the economy’s recovery,” Miller warns. “That is, if we relax public health restrictions too quickly, we run the risk of reversing the public health and economic gains already made.”

On Tuesday, Nevada saw 381 new COVID-19 cases and nine more deaths. Cumulatively, the state has seen 311,314 COVID-19 cases and 5,377 deaths.

“The recovery of our public health and the economy reminds me of Aesop’s fable, The Tortoise and the Hare,” Miller said. “Slow but steady wins the race.”