UV Slot Machine Partitions Developed to Protect Casino Players, Workers

Posted on: May 6, 2020, 07:14h. 

Last updated on: May 6, 2020, 11:31h.

A slot machine partition made from acrylic that inventors say cleans itself via ultraviolet (UV) light holds promise given concerns over worker and player safety from coronavirus risk.

Slot Machine Partition
Brian Hedlund, a UNLV microbiologist, wants some questions answered about partitions designed to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission in casinos. (Image: UNLV)

The SafePlay UV partitions were developed by Las Vegas-based Smith Rosen. The company manufactures products that mitigate exposure to airborne contaminants in casinos.

The partitions provide a barrier between slot players to meet social distancing standards. The barriers are custom cut, and have a laser-etched design that is backlit by RGB lED lights. Ozone is also used in the process.

“The number of entrepreneurial innovations designed to meet the challenges of keeping casino workers and guests safe in the post-coronavirus environment is impressive,” Anthony Cabot, Distinguished Fellow in Gaming Law at UNLV’s Boyd School of Law, told Casino.org, when asked about the devices. “The dividers between the machines are one such device.”

Questions Arise About Product

But questions remain on how much the product can protect people from COVID-19.

For instance, Cabot cautioned, “Before a casino should embrace such innovations, the ideas should be vetted with doctors or scientists to determine if they provide real protection, provide a false sense of security, or may even have negative attributes.”

Whether players and guests will embrace such changes is also “unknown,” Cabot said. “The comments that I have heard from casino professionals have been mixed.

“Some have argued that they would negatively impact the social atmosphere that makes the casinos attractive to patrons. Others are more willing to try these innovations in limited tests within the casino to test the patron’s acceptance. Not all patrons are the same, and some may appreciate it if the screens provide added protection.”

Brian Hedlund, a UNLV microbiologist, is intrigued by the invention. But he has questions, too.

Further Testing Is Needed

“I think a divider is a solid idea that makes sense for the future,” Hedlund told Casino.org. “The UV is a good idea, but … some experiments would be necessary to assess the effectiveness unequivocally.”

The questions he suggests are worth investigating include: What is the type of UV? How much ozone is involved? We’re any microbiology experiments done? Is there data available?

The company explains that a dual-sided, insulated wiper is activated on the barrier when a player leaves the slot machine. The bar of the wiper can be moved manually or activated automatically when the player departs.

The wiper has a high-intensity ultraviolet LED. When it’s activated, the company says it will destroy surface germs on the partition.

“The divider, of course, would not do anything to disinfect the slot machine itself. But it doesn’t profess to,” Hedlund adds.

When developing the product, Darryl Rosenblatt said he and a team of gaming engineers at Smith Rosen asked multiple questions, such as: What in nature naturally combats germs? And how can we harness that power and apply it to a casino environment?

“We utilize ultraviolet light in a shrouded bar that cleanses the surface of the partition whenever a person gets up,” Rosenblatt told KVVU. “So basically, they have a clean area to play in every time they get up from the machine. Absolutely no germs can grow on the surface of the partition, and while it’s cleaning, it’s actually generating ozone, which has sanitary effects as well.”

Plexiglass barriers, which are found at some casinos to divide areas on gaming floors, are less sanitary, Rosenblatt said. “Those static partitions with the heat coming off the machines, they’re Petri dishes, and the amount of labor it would take to clean them, you would have to have an army of people running around,” he told the TV station.

With gaming properties now planning reopenings, casino unions want to see added safety precautions in place.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board has come up with a plan for casinos to reopen that mandates or suggests certain safety requirements.