Nevada casinos learn details on reopening social distancing rules


nevada-casino-post-pandemic-gaming-limitsNevada casinos are learning the tough limits that will govern gaming operations once the state clears them to open following their pandemic shutdown.

While Nevada’s casinos still don’t know when Gov. Steve Sisolak will deem it acceptable for them to relaunch their gaming operations, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) continues to prepare operators for the return of gambling to the Las Vegas Strip.

Building on last month’s guidance for creating a reopening plan of action, the NGCB has now issued health and safety policies for resumption of gaming for its non-restricted licensees (basically, any venue operating more than 15 slots). The guidance lays out minimum requirements, and operators aren’t barred from taking more restrictive steps.

Among the highlights are an occupancy limit of no more than 50% of a gaming area’s capacity, as defined by local building and fire codes. This is to be monitored by security personnel head counts, video surveillance systems and any other method available.

Operators will have to come up with a new floor plan for slot machine areas to ensure proper social distancing between customers. The guidance doesn’t assign a percentage of the machines that will need to be switched off, but does suggest removing chairs/stools in front of every other machine.

Table game capacity will vary depending on the game, with blackjack limited to three players per table, four players at both roulette and poker tables, and six players at craps tables. Supervisors will also be responsible for ensuring customers “do not congregate in groups around gaming tables.”

Sportsbooks, keno lounges and bingo halls will all be subject to the same somewhat vague ‘congregate in groups’ restrictions. Restaurants and bars will have “reduced seating” according to federal, state and local guidance, and nightclubs are still on the list of venues that will remain closed even after gaming operations resume.

And all gaming positions – including cards and chips – will be subject to cleaning and disinfection “on a continual and regular basis.”

Nevada casinos have been getting pretty creative in tinkering with their gaming options to figure out ways to minimize the likelihood of further COVID-19 transmission between customers. But it remains to be seen how much demand there will be to occupy those isolated gaming positions once those casino doors are allowed to swing open.