If there’s anywhere that seems prime for coronavirus spread, it’s a Nevada casino. Dirty hands are constantly touching playing cards, casino chips and slot machine levers. People are hustling in and out of resort doors so they can idle in crowded lines at hotel check-ins and all-you-can-eat buffets.
It came as no surprise when Nevada shut down its bustling casino and resort industry in March to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, even though the move would severely impact the tourism-centric economy.
Now, months after those initial closures, many Vegas casinos are reopening their doors once again. But don’t expect hordes of tourists and locals to be packing behind blackjack tables or sitting shoulder-to-shoulder at marquee shows. Here’s how Sin City and Nevada gambling will look under new COVID-19 measures when some casinos reopen on June 4.
Socially distanced gaming
At properties owned by Caesars Entertainment (such as Caesars Palace), seats at gaming tables and slot machines will be limited to keep in accordance with social-distancing policies. “Non-gaming offerings, including entertainment, restaurants and bars, will likely be reopened on a phased basis with limited capacity," the organization said.
Properties owned by MGM Resorts (which includes Bellagio, MGM Grand and New York-New York), will have hand-washing stations and will incorporate similar social distancing measures, although additional plexiglass barriers will be incorporated in areas where social distancing isn’t feasible.
At Wynn-owned properties (Wynn and Encore) similar physical distancing protocols will be applied to restaurant tables and slot machines.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board released updated guidelines for how social-distanced activity should take place at properties, noting that necessary guidelines must be in place at front desks, restaurant and bars, pools and retail spaces.
“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 board noted. “Casino supervisors and managers must ensure that patrons do not congregate in groups around gaming tables. Licensees should ensure dealers have hand sanitizer available to offer to patrons throughout their shifts.”
The agency also instructed nonrestricted licensed casinos to ensure the regular cleaning and disinfection of dice, shufflers, roulette wheels and other frequently-used gaming items. The agency also directed casinos to ensure that patrons do not congregate in race & sportsbooks, keno lounges and bingo halls, and that these ares are properly cleaned, disinfected and that hand sanitizer is readily available.
Additionally, the board also said that “plans must limit a property’s occupancy to no more than fifty percent (50%) of the occupancy limit assigned to each gaming area of the property by local building and fire codes.”
At Caesars, MGM and Wynn resorts, employees will be required to wear masks. Caesars employees will be required to wear a mask while at work and will be provided with one as well. Certain Caesars workers will be given extra PPE depending on their role.
At Caesars, guests will be strongly encouraged to wear masks which will be provided by the company. MGM resorts will also strongly encourage guests to wear masks, and will require them to do so in some settings where physical distancing is more difficult.
Wynn Resorts will ask guests to wear a mask, which they say will be provided by the company. “At management’s discretion guests may be allowed to remove their face covering when other safety protocols are available, according to Wynn, also noting that ”guests may be required to briefly lower face coverings for identification purposes in compliance with regulatory and safety requirements.“
MGM employees will be subject to employee-screening measures to assess potential symptoms of COVID-19, which include temperature checks. Guests are encouraged to abide by a “similar self-screening protocol” prior to and during their stay.
According to Caesars, they will “implement a health screening program for all employees as part of the process of reopening properties.” At Wynn resorts, employees will be screened prior to the start of each shift, with those who have tested positive or have showed known symptoms of COVID-19 to not be allowed on the property.
Employees at said properties will be frequently washing their hands be provided a mask and will be required to wear one as they work, while some employees may be given additional PPE “based on their role,” the company notes.