Sahara Accused of Violating COVID-19 Social Distancing Guidelines After Reopening

Posted on: August 8, 2020, 08:44h. 

Last updated on: August 10, 2020, 11:49h.

Sahara Las Vegas faces potential fines from the Nevada Gaming Commission after the Gaming Control Board filed an 18-page complaint this week. The board charged the Strip resort for not upholding state guidelines on social distancing or crowd control.

Sahara COVID-19
The Nevada Gaming Control Board filed a complaint against Sahara Las Vegas this week, citing violations of social distancing guidelines in the casino and a conference room. (Image: Sahara Las Vegas)

Like other Strip casinos, the Sahara reopened on June 4 after being shuttered for nearly three months because of the order issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

When the state allowed casinos to reopen, it was contingent on the venues operating at reduced capacity and enforcing social distancing guidelines in an effort to control the spread of the virus. Among the guidelines put in place for reopening were limits on gatherings to no more than 50 people, a ban on people loitering around gaming, and a requirement that people sit or stand at least “one betting station apart” from each other.

Shortly after the casino reopened, the GCB received an anonymous report claiming Sahara employees allowed more players than allowed in the slots area, the complaint stated.

A GCB agent went to the casino on June 16. While there, they saw four people gathered at one side of a craps table, but only three were playing. They also saw someone standing at a blackjack table between two people playing. Both were deemed violations, and when an assistant manager was notified, casino staff “corrected the situations,” according to the GCB complaint.

Also on that visit, the agent said he saw five people not playing slots gathered around someone who was. By the time Sahara representatives were notified, the party had dissipated.

The board also sent Sahara a letter detailing the violations on June 18.

Luncheon Mishap

The GCB also accuse the casino of violating state guidelines on the size of gatherings when, on July 23, 135 people were in the Sahara’s Congo Room for a lunch held by a Las Vegas-based group. Board officials learned of the luncheon a week later.

A Sahara vice president told a GCB agent he “misinterpreted” the regulation based on information disseminated from a conference call earlier in the month organized by the Nevada Resort Association.

The executive said he thought the regulation allowed events with food and beverage to be held using the same standard as restaurants, which is 50 percent capacity, instead of the 50-person guideline for gatherings.

Sahara Responds

A Sahara spokesperson told that the company takes its responsibilities “very seriously” and works to maintain the reopening standards Gov. Steve Sisolak and the Gaming Commission have established. They also noted that, as the complaint stated, they made immediate corrections related to the social distancing guidelines.

Prior to that, we worked with health experts to develop our own stringent health and sanitation protocols through our SAHARA Cares program,” the spokesperson told

According to the complaint, the Sahara faced fines of up to $100,000 for each violation cited in the report.