Wednesday, May 6, 2020 / by Ken Couture
When Nevada casinos eventually reopen, customer numbers will be cut in half, nightclubs will remain closed, convention groups will be limited and gamblers will have to keep safe distances apart, according to new rules from state gambling regulators.
“Plans should ... address how licensees will disinfect cards and chips,” the Nevada Gaming Control Board guidelines said.
Table games should be limited to three players for blackjack, six for craps, four for roulette and four for poker. Chairs could be removed from every second slot machine. Casino supervisors and managers have to prevent patrons from congregating in groups around tables.
“We’re definitely going to require a lot of our licensees. They understand they need to get it right,” board Chairwoman Sandra Douglass Morgan said Monday.
Gov. Steve Sisolak has not announced an opening date, but the guidelines issued Friday require casino operators to “create and implement” — at least seven days in advance — detailed plans for sanitizing everything from table game seats to guest room door handles and TV remotes to restaurant menus and escalator rails.
The guidelines were posted a day after the governor eased restrictions on some outdoor activities and businesses but said casinos would remain closed. Sisolak extended until at least May 15 his directive for people to stay home to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Most people with the virus experience symptoms such as fever and cough for up to three weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems can face severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
The governor said the state economy will reopen gradually, with the casinos and resort hotels he closed in mid-March expected to reopen during third- or fourth-level phases in weeks to come. Some Las Vegas Strip resorts aim to open by Memorial Day.
Morgan and the board have regulatory authority over the state’s 459 licensed casinos and resorts, and nearly 2,000 more bars, restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores with 15 or fewer slot machines.
Patrons and hotel guests “will find the high-level customer service they’re used to, an environment that’s clean and sanitized, (and) employees who are properly trained on COVID and sanitation protocol,” Morgan said.
“But it’s likely going to look a little different because the operators have to make sure there is social distancing,” she said. “Obviously, mass gatherings can’t happen right away.”
Property occupancy will at least initially be limited to 50% of building and fire code limits. Restaurants will have reduced seating, with extra space between patrons and tables. No more than 250 people will be allowed at conventions and meetings.
Swimming pool cabanas and chaises “must allow for appropriate distancing,” and nightclubs and dayclubs — where dancers and revelers are usually packed tightly — will remain idle “until further notice.”
Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes have to be available to casino employees and patrons, and the guidelines say property operators that require protective masks, gloves or face shields must provide them.
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