Some Nevada Casinos Detail Reopening Plans, Culinary Union Wants Statewide Release Policy

Posted on: May 19, 2020, 02:54h. 

Last updated on: May 19, 2020, 09:36h.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board is forcing gaming properties to submit their reopening plans before resuming operations after months of closures because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the board will not release relevant documents to the public because of requirements under Nevada law.

Casinos Plan Reopenings
The Nevada Gaming Control Board, led by Chairwoman Sandra Douglass Morgan (seen above at a board meeting in 2019), will not release reopening plans from casinos. State law considers the documents confidential, officials argue. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Keeping the documents from public eyes was condemned by the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and First Amendment advocates as showing a lack of transparency. But state officials defend the policy, given regulations.

The Gaming Control Board will not release reopening plans that have been submitted to the Board,” Michael Lawton, a senior research analyst at the state’s Administration Division, confirmed Monday in a statement released to Casino.org. “Gaming properties are free to share their plans with the public if they choose to.”

He explained that under Nevada Revised Statutes 463.120, Subsection 6, “any submissions by a licensee regarding the [Gaming] Board’s regulatory and enforcement authority is confidential.”

A required reopening plan falls “under this confidentiality provision,” Lawton added. Beyond this, the board “does not have the authority to waive the confidentiality provision,” he said.

The only way the board could release the document would be if the state legislature chooses to amend Subsection 6, Lawton added.

Some casino companies already released details on their reopening plans. It is unclear if these documents include all specifics found in the documents they submitted to the gaming board.

The Culinary Union wants reopening plans for casinos released to the public. It also asked for a statewide uniform policy.

“The idea that each gaming company can come up with their own plans, keep those plans secret, and hope that one bad employer doesn’t harm workers and the entire industry is a potential disaster,” Bethany Khan, a union spokesperson told Casino.org.

“The Culinary Union calls on Governor [Steve] Sisolak to use his considerable authority to mandate a uniform health and safety protocol immediately, and to require each gaming company to post their detailed safety guidelines for the public to see,” she added.

Geoconda Arguello-Kline, secretary-treasurer of the Culinary Union, has explained that “Nevada has a chance to be a leader in the hospitality industry. If casino companies will not release their plans and be transparent before reopening, how can customers and workers know they will be safe?”

Additionally, in a column published recently by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, journalist Richard N. Velotta said it is “possible that Gov. Steve Sisolak could issue an executive order requiring the Control Board to release reopening plans.” The governor’s office on Monday did not respond to a request for comments on the issue from Casino.org.

Gaming Companies Describe Reopening Safeguards

Last week, MGM Resorts International released a 19-page “seven-point safety plan” that provides overall details on its reopening plans for its US properties. The company explained in a statement last week that the plan is “a multi-layered set of protocols and procedures designed in conjunction with medical and scientific experts to deter the spread of the virus, protect customers and employees, and rapidly respond to potential new cases.”

On Monday, when asked about releasing to the public the specific plans for each of its Nevada casinos, an MGM spokesman referred to the seven-point plan. He declined further comment.

Caesars Entertainment has not made its reopening plans public, according to the Review-Journal. The company will use a phased-in approach to resume operations and will implement varied safeguards.

Throughout this public health emergency, Caesars has been committed to fully complying with all government directives. That will continue to be the company’s approach as we reopen properties across the country,” a Caesars Entertainment spokesperson told Casino.org when asked about the issue on Monday.

When it was contacted on Monday, The Venetian did not respond with comments on the controversy. Last month, The Venetian released a document which included some 800 steps to keep the Las Vegas gaming property safe when it eventually reopens.

Wynn Resorts and Station Casinos have also released information related to reopening plans. Wynn was the first casino operator to release such details. Their 24-page document was published last month.

Station Casinos Provides New Details on Reopening Precautions

On Monday, Station Casinos released a 16-page document detailing health and sanitation guidelines. An example of safeguards includes temperature checks of visitors and workers at entrances. Anyone with a temperature of over 100.4 degrees will be prevented from entering the venue.

Station properties will also require guests to stand at least six feet away from other guests who are not part of their party. That applies to when standing in lines, using elevators, or moving around the casino.

Crowd size will also be capped. Gaming area occupancy will be limited to no more than 50 percent of the capacity identified by building and fire officials.

Also, Station properties will require stepped-up cleaning and disinfecting of the casino floor area. For instance, table game dealers will sanitize dice upon pass off and for each new shooter.