Gaming Commission considers reopening policies
Casino capacity would be halved, players would keep their distance from slots and table games, and surfaces would be cleaned frequently when casinos reopen under new guidelines approved Thursday, May 7 by the Nevada Gaming Commission.
The rules would guide the state’s more than 400 casino properties. The commissioners took more than 40 minutes of public comment before agreeing that guidelines issued by the state’s Gaming Control Board would help provide a safe and healthy environment to reopen casinos that have closed since March 18.
The halved occupancy limits assigned to each play area on the property would be determined by local building and fire codes. The table game limits would include three players per blackjack table, six players per craps table, four players per roulette table, and four players per poker table.
The council has issued guidelines for unrestricted licensees that include resorts and downtown and local casinos, as well as those for more than 1,000 restricted licensees and those with 15 or less slot machines in. convenience stores, supermarkets, restaurants and taverns.
“These are unprecedented times that require unprecedented action,” said Sandra Morgan, chair of the Gaming Control Board. “We believe these policies make good sense, not only for our licensees, but for our employees and guests. “
In public comments, ahead of the vote, Culinary Union’s Geoconda Argüello-Kline urged the committee to review the public health guidelines suggested by the Union for the reopening of casinos.
These guidelines include testing workers for coronavirus and antibodies; PPE widely available to workers and guests at no cost; improved cleaning of all surfaces and areas; and accountability and monitoring of all adopted protocols.
“Culinary Union members want to return to work and provide for their families, but they are worried about what awaits them inside the casinos when they return,” the Arguello-Kline statement said. .
Union members also read several statements during public comments asking the board to ensure guidelines for reopening casinos include protocols to keep casino workers safe.
“I’m a front-line hotel worker,” said Gladis Blanco, room attendant at Bellagio. “As a room attendant, I interact with guests frequently throughout the day. I’m afraid of touching dirty bedding / towels or trash and then contracting the virus and infecting my two children.
Shawn Best, a banquet cook at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, echoed those concerns.
“The health and safety of workers and guests must be a priority,” Best’s statement said. “My colleagues and I are frontline workers and our employer should work with the Culinary Union to ensure that appropriate public health protections are in place to protect both workers and casino guests.”
Others have also made statements during public comments on concerns about responsible gambling once the casinos reopen.
“As our state grapples with the health and safety concerns of the reopening, we must recognize that virtually all Nevadans entering casinos will have seen their financial situation deteriorate,” read a statement from Alan Feldman from UNLV International Gaming Institute. “Our economic recovery should not include putting anyone at risk.
“Experiences that are traditionally known to contribute to problem gambling may have been experienced by many returning clients, such as isolation, loss of income, loss of a loved one or unemployment. These experiences may help customers use gambling to escape the stress of the pandemic or to try to recoup lost income. “