US casinos prep reopening with thermal cameras, sneezeguards


penn-national-gaming-casino-sneezeguard-coronavirusUS casino operators continue to drop hints regarding their tentative plans to reopen as the COVID-19 pandemic shows early signs of slowing transmission rates.

This week, Las Vegas Sands’ Venetian Resort Las Vegas unveiled plans to ensure customer safety once the venue gets the signal from Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak to relaunch operations. The Venetian Clean Commitment makes it clear that casino visitors will encounter a very different experience from the one they were used to before the state’s casinos were closed in mid-March.

The Commitment involves 800 separate initiatives that ensure the property’s hygiene and sanitation practices “meet or exceed regulatory requirements and the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control.”

Guests and staff will be subjected to “discreet and non-invasive” temperature checks via thermal cameras at all entry points. Guests are welcome to wear personal protective equipment (gloves, masks) but masks that cover the full face aren’t allowed (sorry, would-be robbers).

The property’s floor plans have been altered to ensure proper physical distancing, including spacing between restaurant tables and slot machines. Table games will host a maximum of three chairs, and casino chips will be disinfected every two hours or so.

Similar plans were announced earlier this month by Wynn Resorts. Sands, Wynn and MGM Resorts will presumably have a leg up on their US rivals due to their experience relaunching their Macau casinos following that market’s 15-day shutdown in February.

Penn National Gaming (PNG) is reportedly going one step beyond by adding plexiglass ‘sneeze guards’ to its gaming tables. A video taken at PNG’s Margaritaville Resort Casino in Louisiana shows the plexiglass (pictured above) separating players from dealers – with a gap at the bottom to allow movement of cards and chips – plus additional barriers between each player.

Last week, the Nevada Gaming Control Board issued guidance to casino operators regarding the steps they need to take to restart operations. Some Nevada casinos have begun taking room reservations starting May 15, while Wynn Las Vegas has targeted May 22 for new room bookings, although these timelines are, for the time being, purely aspirational.

Nevada’s current shutdown order is set to expire Thursday (30) but Gov. Sisolak has stated he wants to see 14 days of declining COVID-19 infections before even thinking of opening up. Tuesday saw Nevada health officials announce 115 new cases, so an extension of the shutdown order appears a given.

On Monday, Sisolak said Nevada would join California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington in the ‘Western States Pact’, which aims to work together and share information regarding reopening policies and results.

Some other casino states are taking more aggressive steps. The Couer d’Alene casino in Idaho plans to open its doors for limited operations on Friday and casinos in Montana are expected to follow suit on Monday.